At some point in the day, everyone is a pedestrian. Whether you walk your child to school or walk from your vehicle’s parking lot to the office, each of us walks where vehicles travel. Unfortunately, pedestrian fatalities remain high. In 2019, 6,205 pedestrians died nationwide. In West Virginia, 31 pedestrians were killed by drivers in 2019. This is why the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) is joining with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in observing national Pedestrian Safety Month during October 2021.
We rarely are more vulnerable than when walking in urban areas, crossing busy streets and negotiating traffic. Even rural areas can be dangerous to walk in, as many areas have no sidewalks, crosswalks or safe spaces for walking. Since we all are pedestrians from time to time, it’s important to pay attention to what is going on around us. That’s why the GHSP is sharing information on pedestrian safety this month.
“As both pedestrians and motorists, we all need to pay more attention to our surroundings. Vehicles are deadly weapons and, when combined with a pedestrian, can be deadly,” said Amy Boggs, Pedestrian/Bicycle Safety Coordinator for the GHSP.
“Thirty-one people died on WV’s roadways last year, while they were walking. That’s 31 too many. Nearly all pedestrian-involved crashes are preventable. It all boils down to all of us paying attention, not being distracted or impaired, and slowing down,” Boggs concluded.
Follow these tips to stay safe as a pedestrian:
- Pay attention. That means: Head Up, Phone Down.
- Stay alert. Don’t wear ear buds.
- Whenever possible, walk on the sidewalk; if no sidewalk is available, walk facing traffic
- Follow the rules of the road, obeying all traffic signs and signals.
- Cross streets at crosswalks.
- If no crosswalk is available and your view is blocked, move to a place where you can see oncoming traffic.
- Look left, right and left again before crossing the street, making eye contact with drivers of oncoming vehicles to make sure they see you.
- Avoid alcohol and drug impairment when walking.
- Wear bright and/or reflective clothing and use a flashlight at night.
- Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways or backing up in parking lots.
- Children younger than 10 should cross the street with an adult.
Distracted walking incidents are on the rise, and everyone with a cell phone is at risk. We are losing focus on our surroundings and putting our safety 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 indoors and out.
When driving, help keep pedestrians of all ages safe:
- Pay attention. Put your phone down and never drive while distracted.
- Obey all traffic laws, especially posted speed limits in school zones.
- Watch for pedestrians at all times; be extra cautious when backing up.
- Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, making eye contact to indicate that you see them.
- Never pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks.
- Do not drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
For more information about pedestrian safety, visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/pedestrian-safety.
For more information about the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program, visit www.dmv.wv.gov/ghsp or call 304-926-2509.