Walking can be a risky business. Every two hours a pedestrian in America is involved in a traffic accident. Seniors are especially vulnerable because the consequences are so dire, but who is really at fault?
We blame distracted drivers and we blame poorly designed streets and roadways, but we can’t quite bring ourselves to blame distracted walkers. I agree with the article written by Brian Mockenhaupt (AARP Bulletin; December 2014) that said that the responsibility for pedestrian accidents is shared, almost equally, between drivers and pedestrians.
Pedestrians are the most vulnerable roadway users, and most of us are pedestrians. We walk our dogs, we run across the street to the mail box; we walk across parking lots to get to stores and we walk for the sheer joy of it.
It is easy to be over confident. Somewhere along the way we came to believe that pedestrians always have the right away, but do they? It is easy to chastise a driver for texting, talking, and changing radio stations, but we need to chastise distracted walkers as well.
Does this mean you shouldn’t walk? Of course it doesn’t. Walking is the easiest and most cost effective way to get from one place to another. Walking gives us an opportunity to get some exercise and to socialize with friends, but everyone needs to be mindful of what is going on around them. Start by:
- Wearing bright colored clothing
- Add reflection strips to clothing and carry a flashlight if you must walk at night. Keep in mind that visibility is poor and accident rates are highest between 6 p.m. and midnight.
- Walk on the sidewalk or on a walking path when possible.
- If walking on a roadway always face oncoming traffic. Make eye contact with motorists; be sure they see you.
- Cross at crosswalks and wait for the walk signal. Smile and say “sorry” if a driver has to wait until you get across the street.
- Never come out between parked cars or cross over a median barrier.
- Do not cross while using your phone or listening to audio devices.
Pay attention. Share the road. Walk responsibly and try to avoid becoming a statistic.