Everyone is a Pedestrian

The U.S. is holding steady with nearly 6,000 pedestrians killed in 2017

After two years of marked increases, the number of pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. is holding steady with nearly 6,000 pedestrians killed in 2017, according to estimates from the Governors Highway Safety Association. Most crashes involving pedestrians occur at non-intersections. Crossing Rules

Most of us cross streets every day. We are all pedestrians at one time or another, and we take for granted that we can cross without incident because, most of the time, we do. But sometimes we aren’t so fortunate.

Nationally, each year about 6,000 pedestrians die and 70,000 are injured in traffic accidents. Young children and the elderly are more likely to be killed or injured in a pedestrian crash than any other group. While it’s easy to blame drivers, they are not always responsible for these accidents. All too often, pedestrians are the cause of accidents.

These senseless tragedies don’t have to happen. Review this advice for safe street crossing to avoid potential injuries—and even death.

Always follow these steps when crossing a street:

  • Before crossing, stop at the curb, edge of the road or corner before proceeding.
  • Look left-right-left and over your shoulder for turning vehicles. If it’s clear, begin crossing.
  • Continue to check for traffic while crossing.

Pedestrian Tips

  • At intersections with traffic lights and pedestrian signals, it’s important to follow the signals carefully. Locate and press the crosswalk button, wait until you see the WALK signal and follow the rules for crossing. Always stow your cellphone when crossing the street and keep your head up.

  • A flashing DON’T WALK signal indicates you shouldn’t start to cross the street. However, if you are in the middle of the street and the DON’T WALK signal starts flashing, continue walking; you have time to complete the crossing.

  • If you see a steady DON’T WALK signal, don’t begin to cross the street! Wait for the next WALK signal. The WALK signal and the green traffic light indicate that it’s your turn to cross the street, but they do not mean it is safe to cross. The WALK signal and the green light mean: Look both ways, and then if it’s safe, go. Make eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you as you cross. 

  • At night, wear light colors and walk where the streetlights will illuminate you.

Driver Tips

  • Be sure to stop before the crosswalk. This is a no-car zone.

  • When the light turns green, go slow, check your surroundings and proceed with caution. Make eye contact with pedestrians to ensure it’s safe to continue through the intersection.

  • At night, reduce your ground-speed. Always turn on your headlights when visibility is low and use your turn signal to let others know where you’re heading.
  • Pavement Markings Are Your Road Map to Safely Crossing

Crosswalks

While they won’t protect pedestrians from oncoming traffic, crosswalks do serve to guide pedestrians across the street. Motorists are reminded to look for and to yield to pedestrians in the road when they see the bright, white lines of a crosswalk.

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Federal Government Spends $172K on Fighting Distracted Pedestrians


New York State is considering a ban on the use of electronic devices while crossing streets. Above, a jogger in New York City. Credit Richard Perry/The New York Times

The National Institutes of Health is spending over $170,000 studying how to crack down on distracted pedestrians looking at their phones when crossing the street by sending people warning messages on their phones to look at while they cross the street.

The study, being conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, also involves tracking what college students are doing on their smartphones when they are near an intersection.

Researchers said an uptick in pedestrian deaths is likely linked to increased cell phone use. The proposed solution is sending an alert to the pedestrian’s phone, which would then prompt them to look at the phone just as they are about to cross a busy intersection.

“Unlike most medical conditions, the pedestrian injury rate is currently increasing in the United States,” according to the grant for the project. “This project will study the efficacy of an intervention to reduce distracted pedestrian behavior using smartphone technology.”

“Over 4,800 American pedestrians die annually, a figure that is currently increasing,” the grant states. “One hypothesized reason for the increasing trend in pedestrian injuries and deaths is the role of mobile technology in distracting both pedestrians and drivers. Existing behavioral interventions to reduce distracted pedestrian behavior are few.”

“We propose to develop and then evaluate Bluetooth beacon technology as a means to alert and warn pedestrians when they are approaching dangerous intersections, reminding them to attend to the traffic environment and cross the street safely rather than engaging with mobile technology,” the grant explains.

Bluetooth technology will be placed at intersection corners that will send college students an alert through an app, with a message, sound, or vibrating warning. The app might also freeze a user’s cell phone screen when crossing the street.

For research purposes, the app also will download data concerning the users’ behavior while crossing the street,” the grant states, including if a user stops using their phone, puts it in their pocket, or leaves music on.

The project began on Sept. 1 and has received $172,321 from taxpayers. Research will continue through August 2020. Check out this article from The New York Times on how “States; Lawmakers Turn Attention to the Dangers of Distracted Pedestrians”
https://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/26/us/26runners.html

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