Distracted driving has sadly become commonplace on our roads, and even though states continue to crack down on the act with new bans and ordinances, much work still has to be done. One threat that has gone largely unnoticed until just recently, though, is the danger posed by distracted walking and other pedestrian activities that can compromise safety just as much as a reckless driver. Safe Kids Worldwide reports that, on a daily basis, 61 kids are injured while walking, and 500 die every single year. It’s appropriate, then, that a new report from Safe Kids offers tips to pedestrians and drivers alike on how to improve safety.
Teenagers make up a whopping 50% of pedestrian accidents among children, and it’s widely perceived to be because of the increased prevalence of cellphones and all the attendant distractions that go along with them. That’s why distracted walking is strongly discouraged. Anyone who has to use a phone while they’re on foot would be wise to stop and remain stationary until such time that their usage of the phone is completed. Your attention should be focused on the path ahead, not on the text you’re sending. Other distractions should also be limited, such as headphones.
Staying safe doesn’t just end with limiting distraction. Pedestrians should adhere to the relevant traffic laws in their area. That means only using crosswalks and intersections and waiting until the necessary signage tells you to go before doing so. Do not cross in the middle of a street away from the crosswalk. This is where most collisions occur.
When you do cross, make sure you turn your head to the left, then to the right, and then left again before going across, and stay alert as you’re crossing, even if you have the walk signal. You never know when a driver won’t pay attention, which makes putting down the distractions even more important. Walk across the street instead of running, and try to make eye contact with drivers so you can verify they’re not about to execute a maneuver that puts you at risk.
Drivers can also do their part to keep pedestrians safe, and that starts with not exceeding the speed limit. In residential areas and near school zones, drivers should slow down even further and be on the lookout for children. That doesn’t just mean at the crosswalks either. As stated above, most collisions occur between blocks, so be ready for a kid haphazardly darting across the street at any moment. And no matter if you’re in the right or not, the pedestrian always gets the right of way. You’re in a car, and they’re on foot, so they need to be protected even when poor decisions are made.
Finally, don’t drive while distracted by a phone or some other device. That should go without saying.