October Is Safety Month for People Traveling by Foot
The month of October has been designated as Pedestrian Safety Month. This is a time when we can all work together to increase the safety of pedestrians on our roads and sidewalks. Pedestrians are often forgotten about in discussions about traffic safety, but they are out there every day. And it’s important that both drivers and pedestrians remember that everyone needs to be alert and cautious anytime they’re on the road whether walking or driving!
Fatal incidents for people traveling by foot are on the rise in the United States.
You may not be aware of this, but deadly auto crashes involving people traveling by foot are on the rise in the United States. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of pedestrians killed by automobiles in the U.S. in 2020 were at a 10-year record high. Similarly, data from Michigan Traffic Crash Facts shows that the number of people who were fatally injured by motor vehicles while walking in Michigan in 2021 was higher than it had been in 10 years.
People walking need to be cautious at all times.
When you are walking, you should always be aware of what’s going on around you and where you are at all times. Don’t text and walk; don’t wear headphones; don’t cross the street without looking both ways; don’t walk on the road if there is a sidewalk available; don’t walk in dark areas. Walk as if the drivers of the vehicles around you are not watching out for you – because all too often they are not.
Drivers need to always keep a lookout for people on foot.
- Drivers should always keep in mind that there could be people on foot anywhere. In order to prevent parking lot pedestrian accidents you should drive cautiously even if you’re passing through an empty parking lot, there could be someone who may step out from behind a car or truck and into your path of travel.
- Be alert when driving near schools or playgrounds. Children might not look both ways before crossing the street; they also tend to dart across quickly without looking first at traffic coming toward them from any direction.
- Don’t get distracted by talking on your cell phone or changing music channels—make sure you keep your full attention focused on the road ahead so that you can react quickly if necessary.
- Do not speed and obey the speed limit.
- Be careful in and around crosswalks – because people crossing the street on foot will frequently have the right of way.
Don’t run when behind a car that is stopped in or near an intersection.
- Don’t run in front of a car.
- Don’t run between cars.
- Don’t run in front of a car that is stopped at an intersection.
- Don’t run between cars that are stopped at an intersection.
- Don’t cross the street while running if you can avoid it, and don’t do so without looking both ways first!
Don’t cross against signals.
When you are crossing the street on foot, always cross with the green light or the “walk” signal. Even when you do have the right of way, stay vigilant of where the motor vehicles are around you – in case a driver does not see you and tries to drive through the crosswalk while you’re still crossing.
Drivers should not pass other vehicles at a crosswalk.
Even if the motor vehicle ahead of you seems to be taking a long time at the crosswalk, do not pass that vehicle because it is very likely that the vehicle is waiting to resume its travels until a person or persons have exited the crosswalk.
Stay off of electronic devices when walking or driving.
- Don’t text or email while walking or driving—it’s not safe!
- Don’t use headphones or earbuds when driving or walking—you’re less likely to hear cars around you if they honk their horns!
Everyone needs to be alert and cautious anytime they’re on the road whether walking or driving!
Whether you’re walking or driving, it’s important that you keep your eyes open and look around for other people on foot and for vehicles.
- Pedestrian crossing accidents are preventable. Drivers should watch out for pedestrians in crosswalks, especially when turning corners or making turns at intersections. It’s also important that they don’t speed up just because there are no cars in front of them—remember that someone could be running across the street!
- Pedestrians should always attempt to cross a busy street at an intersection with traffic lights rather than mid-block where crosswalks may not exist (for example, on one-way streets). They should also remember not only when crossing but also when waiting on either side of a crosswalk: stay visible by waiting off-road until cars have stopped completely before stepping onto the road; always look left/right/left again before proceeding across into moving traffic; don’t assume drivers will see them because they’re wearing bright colors or reflectors!
Pedestrian safety is a serious issue, and the statistics show that more pedestrians are losing their lives in senseless, preventable auto accidents. Fortunately, there are ways to protect yourself as a pedestrian and ways for drivers to protect pedestrians. By following these tips, you can help to make the roads safer for people traveling by foot.
By Steven M. Gursten, attorney and head of Michigan Auto Law