With shorter days and rainy weather, fall and winter can be challenging for pedestrians.
But we can all take steps to keep roads safer for everyone, from being mindful of our surroundings and wearing bright clothes as pedestrians to watching our speed and minding crosswalks as drivers. In the U.S., a pedestrian was killed every 84 minutes in a traffic crash in 2018, according to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association. Every seven minutes a pedestrian was injured.
And these crashes are far more likely to take place at night when it’s often harder to see people walking. Between 2015-2017, 77% of fatal crashes occur when it’s dark outside.
In Oregon the number of crashes involving pedestrians has increased from 849 in 2013 to 984 in 2018, the latest data available. The number of pedestrians killed in a motor vehicle crash has increased from 52 in 2013 to 79 in 2018.
The top driver error involved in these crashes – failing to yield right of way to a pedestrian.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has designated October as Pedestrian Safety Month. Here are some tips to keep in mind this month and year round to make pedestrians safer. And remember we’re all pedestrians!
Tips for Drivers
Stay alert and eliminate distractions such as cell phones so you can focus on driving.
Always have an eye out for pedestrians, especially during dark hours or times of low visibility such as when it is raining. Remember, road conditions can impact your stopping ability, so be prepared.
Slow down when you are entering a popular pedestrian and in rainy weather and low-light areas.
Be prepared to stop when approaching crosswalks. And never pass a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk.
Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Being impaired affects your judgement and reaction time.
Tips for Pedestrians
Stay alert and ditch the distractions: Keep your eyes and ears open and ditch the distractions like texting, talking on the cell phone, or listening to headphones.
Cross with caution and cross at corners: Don’t assume the coast is clear just because you’re using the crosswalk and the WALK sign is on. Continue to watch for traffic as you cross the street---especially for turning vehicles.
Be clear to drivers: If you wish to cross the street, be sure to establish eye contact with drivers. If you’re not sure the driver sees you, let the vehicle go first.
Be visible: Do what you can to be seen. If you’re wearing dark clothing, drivers may not see you. Wear bright clothing (even white clothing may not be visible at night). Add reflective material or a blinking light to your jacket or backpack or carry a flashlight at night. Be extra careful when walking during dusk or early in the morning.
Use sidewalks when you can. If there’s no sidewalk walk facing traffic.
Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways or backing up in parking lots.
Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking. They impair your abilities and judgement.
For more information on ODOT’s Pedestrian and Bicycle program visit www.Oregonwalkbike.org.