Walk it out: Pedestrian safety

“I was about to cross the street when an approaching car pulled all the way over the crosswalk in order to get a good line of sight into crossing traffic. No big deal, I figured, I’ll just duck behind them. Except the driver must have realized she was too far forward and nearly hit me backing up.” – Jaime, from Green Bay 

According to the CDC, more than 460 pedestrians are struck by a car and require emergency room treatment every day in the U.S. On average, one pedestrian will die every two hours as a result of a traffic crash.

Cross at the corner
Wisconsin recognizes a “crosswalk” to be both marked crossings and unmarked lateral crossings at intersections (where a crosswalk would logically be). Pedestrians in Wisconsin have the right of way at both marked and unmarked crossings, unless crossing signals are present. However, the laws vary by state, so know the rules where you live!

Using the crosswalk is the safest option. Nationally, two out of three pedestrian fatalities occur at non-intersections. Remember to watch for cars traveling in the lane you’re crossing AND cars that might turn into your lane.

Exercise your rights, with caution
If you step into a crosswalk, traffic is expected to stop for you. However, drivers may not obey the rules or may be distracted. Cross when you have room and time to do so safely. Wait for a gap in traffic if you can. Otherwise, look directly at the approaching drivers as you walk, so you know they’ve seen you and are prepared to stop.

Stay visible
Walking after dark increases the danger. One in three pedestrian deaths occur between 8 p.m. and midnight. Take steps to stay visible, such as carrying a flashlight, wearing a blinking red safety light, and/or wearing reflective clothing.

Choosing sides
Always use the sidewalk if one is available. If not, you should walk facing oncoming traffic (the left side of the street). Walking against traffic means you’re less likely to be surprised by an oncoming vehicle and may have more time to react if the driver doesn’t see you.

Stay attentive
Above all, pay attention to traffic moving around you. It’s never a good idea to walk and text at the same time — but especially not when fast moving cars are nearby.