When it comes to car accidents, people often think first of a collision involving two or more vehicles. Most driver education programs teach driving skills based on avoiding accidents with other cars and trucks. But the attention given to pedestrian issues is considerably minimal, and virtually no guidelines are given to the pedestrians themselves.
When struck by a large, sturdy, motorized vehicle, the human body has little protection. Ideally, every driver would exercise full caution and awareness so that such accidents would not happen. But since good driving cannot be guaranteed, it is in the best interest of every pedestrian to be as prepared as possible.
The more you know about pedestrian safety, the less likely you are to be injured in a car accident while walking. Whether you walk for leisure or transportation, short distances or long, the following list offers valuable guidelines to keep in mind while moving about on foot.
- Use sidewalks wherever possible. The less time you spend on the street where the cars are, the lower your chances are of getting hit.
- If there are no sidewalks, grass is the next best thing. If it is possible to walk next to the roadway safely, and without damaging or invading private property, this is preferable to walking in the road itself.
- If the ground next to the road is uneven, closed off, unsafe, or otherwise obstructed, you may be forced to walk in the street itself. Walk against the flow of traffic, generally on the left side of the road. This is essential to avoiding a car accident because it allows you to see oncoming traffic and assures those drivers that you can see them.
- When crossing a street or road, only do so in appropriate places. Walk in crosswalks where they are available. If there is no crosswalk, cross only at corners, never in the middle of a block. Obey all traffic symbols, and do not cross when a light indicates it is not your turn to do so.
- Even if you are crossing in an appropriate place, a car accident can still occur if you do not see a car or if its driver does not see you, especially if the intersection does not have a traffic light. Before crossing, look left, then right, then left again to check for traffic. If an oncoming vehicle is close enough that you would have to run to clear its path, you should not cross.
- Whenever you cross a vehicle’s path, even if that vehicle is coming up to a stop sign, try and make eye contact with the driver to ensure that they are aware of your presence. If you sense that the driver does not see you or does not intend to stop or slow down, get out of the way immediately.
- Lastly, stay visible. Pedestrians often make drivers nervous, which can be a good thing when it spurs drivers to use extra caution. The easier it is for a driver to see you, the less likely they are to strike you and cause a serious accident. Do not step out suddenly from behind a parked car or other object that blocks you from drivers’ views. When there is less light, such as early morning, night time, or during certain weather conditions, wear very bright colors and reflective materials, or carry a flashlight.
Remember, the “pedestrian right of way” is not a cloak of safety. Even if you follow these guidelines, there is no guarantee that the drivers on the road will be equally cautious. When an accident occurs involving both a vehicle and a pedestrian, you may need to contact a West Palm Beach Auto Accident Lawyer to assess your options.
When following the advice above, keep in mind that your number one safety precaution is awareness. The more aware you are of your surroundings, the more responsive you can be to a threatening situation, and the more quickly you can get yourself to a safe place and avoid a car accident.