Infrastructure Improvements and Awareness Can Aid Pedestrian Safety

Posted on April 22, 2013

Last week we brought you word of a pedestrian safety study which found that elderly persons have a greater chance of being struck by a motor vehicle than do younger individuals.  Over the course of the ten years analyzed, 47,392 pedestrians were killed, with men outnumbering women at a rate of more than two to one and persons in cities dying in greater numbers than those in rural areas.

Given this startling information, Consumer Reports has released an article detailing those things that can be done to improve safety, starting at the infrastructural level.  Some issues require relatively simple fixes:  visibility can be improved by increasing the lighting along pedestrian walkways and crosswalks, and more obvious signage can get drivers to place more focus on persons on foot.

One other measure that cities might consider is shuffling around bus stops so that such areas are kept a sufficient distance away from intersections.  When they’re right next to intersections, a pedestrian might cross a street even as an unfocused driver barrels past a stopped bus.

Crosswalks signals can be markedly improved as well.  Ratcheting up the time afforded pedestrians can improve safety dramatically, as can the installation of a HAWK, or High Intensity Activated Crosswalk, signal.  When a pedestrian arrives at a crosswalk, they activate the technology, which emits a series of lights to alert the driver to a pedestrian’s presence.  Another great deterrent to danger?  Crosswalks that offer a countdown clock, letting pedestrians know exactly how much time they have to cross.

Of course, these measures only take into account the city’s part in safety, but many precautions rely on pedestrians themselves doing what they can to stay safe.  To that end, Consumer Reports relates a few safety tips from the Department for the Aging of New York City.

Pedestrians should remain on sidewalks and only cross streets at designated crosswalks at the appropriate time.  At all times, but especially at night, bright clothing should be worn so that drivers will be cognizant of you.  If you can, avoid nighttime walking or walking in the midst of temperamental weather conditions.

When you do get ready to cross the street, only do so when the signal gives you the go-ahead.  If the hand has started flashing or you think it’s about to, remain where you are until the next signal comes around.  Be on the lookout for vehicles, and when an oncoming vehicle is present, make sure you lock eyes with the driver so that they know your intentions.  You might give a wave to further signal your desire to cross safely.

Finally, distraction has no place behind the wheel, but it also doesn’t belong in the midst of walking.  Refrain from texting while you’re walking to your destination.

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