We rarely are more vulnerable than when walking in urban areas, crossing busy streets and negotiating traffic. We all are pedestrians from time to time, so it’s important to pay attention to what is going on around us.
Head Up, Phone Down (Distracted Walking)
Incidents are on the rise and everyone with a cell phone is at risk. According to a Governors Highway Safety Association report, there were nearly 6,000 pedestrian fatalities in 2017. This number mirrors 2016 fatalities.
We are losing focus on our surroundings and putting our safety – and the safety of others – at risk. The solution: Stop using phones while walking, and not just in crosswalks and intersections. Over half of distracted walking injuries occur in our own homes, proving that we need to stay aware of our surroundings, whether they are new or familiar.
The Vehicle Factor
While many communities are implementing measures to become more “walkable” like adding more paths and traffic-calming measures, there still is a long way to go to keep pedestrians safe. Malls surrounded by parking lots, few sidewalks, blind intersections and high traffic areas all contribute to pedestrian fatalities and injuries.
All Age Groups are Vulnerable
While pedestrian-vehicle injuries are the fifth leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 19, according to SafeKids.org, no age group is immune. Here are a few tips for children and adults of all ages:
- Look left, right and left again before crossing the street, looking left a second time is necessary because a car can cover a lot of distance in a short amount of time
- Make eye contact with drivers of oncoming vehicles to make sure they see you
- Be aware of drivers even when you’re in a crosswalk; vehicles have blind spots
- Don’t wear headphones while walking
- Never use a cell phone or other electronic device while walking
- If your view is blocked, move to a place where you can see oncoming traffic.
- Never rely on a car to stop
- Children younger than 10 should cross the street with an adult.
- Only cross at designated crosswalks
- Wear bright and/or reflective clothing
- Walk in groups
Walking is one of the best things we can do to stay healthy, but only if we put safety first. Please join us in doing everything you can to prevent senseless injuries and deaths.
Author: Media Borough Police Chief Martin Wusinich