While October is National Pedestrian and Drive Safe Month, statistics reveal that awareness should go beyond just one month. Many pedestrians operate under the assumption that the drivers who approach and pass by them are paying attention to the road instead of their smart devices, GPS, and other distractions, both technological and nontechnological, that can occur.
Vigilance is vital
Not being vigilant can result in serious injuries and death. The latest data from the Governors Highway Safety Association reveals that between 2018 to 2019, pedestrian fatalities nationally increased by three percent, with 2020 ending in a 4.8 percent growth, totaling 6,412. More than 800 bicyclists lost their lives last year as well.
In California, the first six months of 2019 saw 519 pedestrian fatalities, a 12 percent increase from the same time frame in 2018.
Predictably, distractions remain a significant factor in these state and national tragedies.
During 2020 when a pandemic kept people at home, fewer motor vehicle travelers were supposed to reduce the number of deaths on the road. The opposite was true as fatalities jumped eight percent to more than 42,000, the highest number in 13 years. Pedestrian deaths overall accounted for 17 percent.
The National Road Safety Foundation provides tips to keep walkers and bicyclists safe:
- Never assume that drivers see pedestrians
- Remain alert at all times and avoid electronic devices
- Stay visible with bright clothing during the day and reflective materials or a flashlight at night
- Adhere to the rules of the road
- Obey signs and signals
- When available, stay on sidewalks
- If no sidewalks are available, walk facing and far away from traffic
- Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections
- Look both ways when entering and walking in crosswalks
- Should crosswalks or intersections not be available, locate a well-lit area
- Wait for a traffic gap to cross safely and continue looking out for vehicles
- Watch for cars going in and out of driveways and backing up in parking lots
- Do not walk or bike while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
The smallest steps can make a significant difference for those who choose to walk or use two-wheel, non-motorized transports.