Walking is good for your mind and your body — but walking isn’t always the safest mode of transportation.
Serious accidents involving pedestrians have been on the rise, even as overall roadway traffic accidents have declined. Even though traffic on the roads was pretty thin during much of 2020, for example, 94 pedestrians and bicyclists lost their lives in the Northern Virginia, Maryland and D.C. metro area alone. An untold number of others suffered serious, life-altering injuries.
Safety is a shared responsibility between drivers and pedestrians
The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) is reminding everyone that October is National Pedestrian Safety Month, and the agency wants drivers and pedestrians alike to remember one thing: Everybody is in this together.
Once Daylight Saving Time ends, it gets dark outside increasingly early. That makes it particularly dangerous for pedestrians, wherever they need to go. With that in mind:
- Pedestrians need to make sure they’re visible. Wearing bright colors or using reflective tape on jackets, backpacks and shoes can help draw a driver’s attention and avoid an accident.
- Pedestrians need to be alert. Distracted walking can be just as dangerous as distracted driving. Keep at least one ear free from headphones so you can listen for vehicles as they approach, car horns and sirens and keep your eyes off your phone as you walk.
- Drivers need to slow down around crosswalks. These are the most common places pedestrians are likely to be near the road, so never pass another vehicle that’s stopped at a light or crosswalk.
- Stay particularly alert in low light and poor weather. Just because it’s dark, windy or cold outside, you can’t assume that nobody is walking around.
- Be especially cautious around bus stops. Remember: A lot of people may be moving quickly on and off buses, and someone may end up stepping into the road. Slow down in areas with lots of foot traffic.
Despite your best efforts, you may still end up struck by an errant driver. If that happens, make sure that you take immediate steps to protect your legal interests and your future.