I read too often news articles about traffic accidents involving pedestrians, and have represented pedestrians hit by cars. And it reminds me that even if “pedestrians have the right away” that there may be a way to help pedestrians to avoid these accidents. It is important for us all to follow some pretty simple rules.
According to CDOT, each year about 5,000 pedestrians die and 70,000 are injured in traffic accidents. Most vulnerable are young children and the elderly, with almost a quarter of the victims under the age of 15. For more, check out this study about when children felt it was safe to cross the street.
According to the National Safety Council, 20% of pedestrian deaths and injuries occurred when a person ran into the street, 7% involved improper crossing on the street, and 6% were from pedestrians standing, lying, playing, or working in the street. Interestingly, the CDC states that male pedestrians are more likely to die or be injured in a traffic accident than females. Furthermore, in 2012, 34% of pedestrians killed in traffic accidents had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher.
Pedestrian Safety Tips
CDOT provides the following Crossing Rules for crossing the street:
- Before crossing, stop at the edge.
- Look left-right-left and over your shoulder for turning vehicles. If it’s clear you may begin to cross.
- Continue to check for traffic while crossing.
Other Safety Tips include:
- Follow traffic signals (wait until you see the WALK signal).
- Use sidewalks (if you can’t, walk on the shoulder and face traffic).
- Use areas marked as a crosswalk as they signal to motors to yield to pedestrians.
- Increase your visibility at night (carry a flashlight or wear reflective clothing).
Make Eye Contact
There is an interesting Wall Street Journal article about the “Power of Staring Down the Driver.” The article discusses a study published in Safety Science which found that drivers are more likely to stop when a pedestrian makes eye contact with them than if they do not. It also found that men were more likely to stop than women if the pedestrian was male. The article further discusses how eye contact is shown to enhance a person’s dominance and also creates a need in a driver to impress the pedestrian by stopping.
The study, conducted in France, found that 2/3 of drivers stopped for women compared to 58% for men. When you add in eye contact made, 68% stopped for pedestrians, compared to 55% stopping when eye contact was not made.
As always, be careful when you are a pedestrian and when you are a driver and are approaching pedestrians. If both pedestrian and driver are aware of each other, accidents can be prevented!