Thursday, January 7, 2010

Pedestrian Safety

By Sandy Paquette, Roadway Programs Safety Trainer, Evergreen Safety Council
In 2007, 4,654 pedestrians were killed and 70,000 were injured in traffic crashes in the United States. On average, a pedestrian is killed in a traffic crash every 113 minutes and injured in a traffic crash every 8 minutes

In the past the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) concentrated most of its safety resources on improving the roadway-driver environment more than pedestrian and bicyclist environment. Reducing pedestrian fatalities and injuries now is one of the FHWA Safety Office’s top priorities.

The FHWA’s new approach is not only provide roadway engineers and agencies with the tools and resources they need to improve the roadway safety environment for foot and bike traffic but also include education and an outreach program. This is a three-pronged strategy: (1) educate the public about safer behavior, (2) get drivers into the habit of watching for and yielding, (3) ensuring that engineers and planners accommodate for non-motorized traffic when they design roadways and other transportation facilities.

These goals will take time to accomplish, until then we must take safety precautions for ourselves, families and friends. The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center website has many resources to assist in safe walking and bilking practices to educate ourselves.

Make yourself visible to drivers:
  • Wear retro-reflective materials and bright/light colored clothing and if using an umbrella use a brightly colored one.
  • Carry a flash light when walking during hours of darkness
  • Use caution when wearing headphones and talking on cell phones while walking, especially when crossing the street
  • Stand clear of buses, hedges, parked cars or other obstacles before stepping into the street so drivers can see you.

Avoid dangerous behaviors:

  • Always walk on the sidewalk; if there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic.
  • Stay sober; walking impaired increases your chance of being struck.
  • Don’t assume vehicles will stop; make eye contact with drivers and wait until they show signs of slowing or stopping.

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