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Pedestrian Safety Is the Responsibility of Everyone: How Walkers and Drivers Alike Must Work Together

With spring’s arrival comes a reality that many of us have forgotten about since the first flakes of snow began to fall—pedestrians and cars do not mix well. As crosswalks and intersections around our area go from barren to bustling, both motorists and pedestrians alike will need to take extra care to avoid tragic pedestrian accidents.

The Blame Game: Pedestrians vs. Cars

When it comes to pedestrian and car accidents, everyone has an opinion. If you are an avid outdoor walker or runner, you may notice that the odds seem stacked against you as you fight your way across a crosswalk, and that your right-of-way privileges are a thing of the past. If you get behind the wheel of your car, however, you may begin to notice that pedestrians are distracted by phones or crossing against a signal.

The battle between pedestrians and cars has been a long one, and each one assumes that the other is to blame. The fact remains, however, that both parties are often responsible for pedestrian/auto collisions, and it will take a concerted effort by both parties to make the roads a safer place for everyone.

What Pedestrians Must Do

While the media has started a frenzy (albeit deserved) over distracted drivers, pedestrians are just as guilty of zeroing in on their devices at their own risk. Whether a jogger is listening to her music too loudly to hear a car behind her or a high schooler steps off a curb while texting, distractions prevent everyone from remaining focused in what could be a dangerous situation.

If you are walking or running this spring, take these easy tips to heart to make sure you return home safely each time:

  • When you are crossing the street or nearing an intersection, put your focus entirely on that action. Once you’re safely across the street, you can send your text or make a call.
  • If you listen to music, make sure it is low enough that you can easily hear the cars around you.
  • Always use crosswalks to cross streets and obey pedestrian traffic signals.
  • Many pedestrians involved in accidents were intoxicated—plan a safe way to get home unharmed ahead of time.
  • Just as your parents taught you, look both ways before crossing the street!

The Motorists’ Code

When you trade in your walking shoes for a spin in your car, remember—you have a size and speed advantage, which must be handled carefully. Here are some common-sense (but very important) rules to remember, especially in areas where pedestrians are present:

  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. If you cannot make a turn safely without impeding a pedestrian, wait to begin your turn until both foot and auto traffic allows.
  • Never text and drive and be mindful of other tempting distractions.
  • Always obey traffic laws, including stop lights and stop signs.
  • Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Be mindful of pedestrian signals and scan intersections carefully as you approach.

Combining Forces to Keep Our Streets Safer

Keeping pedestrians safe will be a team effort, one which relies heavily on each party’s ability to think like the other. When you are approaching a crosswalk as a pedestrian, consider what motorists are expecting of you. When you are driving, be predictable so that pedestrians can make safe choices. Be safe this spring, and spread the word about pedestrian safety on social media!

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