This week, the United States Department of Transportation released a plan that the agency believes could help promote pedestrian safety across the country. The measure derives from data which showed a marked uptick in the number of fatalities across the country from 2009 to 2011. Los Angeles was one of the cities that was singled out due to how large of a share pedestrian fatalities made up in terms of overall traffic deaths.
Pedestrian safety is at the forefront of this national campaign, but that campaign can’t work unless citizens do their part to stress safety at every juncture. A new report from CNN outlines those high-risk areas as described by the data available from the DOT’s study, and it’s important that pedestrians take steps to keep themselves out of danger.
There are certain demographic and geographic trends that you really can’t get around. For instance, male pedestrians are killed far more often than females, with more than two thirds of fatalities attributed to males. And although Los Angeles fared poorly in terms of city fatality rates, the state of California as a whole had lower rates of pedestrian fatalities than others. Florida led the pack, followed by South Carolina and Arizona. And those who live in Kansas, New Hampshire, or Nebraska should be thankful, as their states had the lowest rates.
Although these factors aren’t necessarily in your control (after all, you’re probably not going to move just because your state or city suffers from high pedestrian fatality rates), others are. Consider that seven out of fatalities take place at night. You can protect yourself by wearing bright clothing when you’re out.
Weekends, and particularly weekend nights, also contribute to a larger share of pedestrian fatalities than other days of the week. It’s not outside the realm of possibility to think that one other factor may play into these increased rates during the weekend: alcohol. Nearly half of all fatal strikes involved alcohol in some way. 35% of the pedestrians killed had a Blood Alcohol Content above the legal limit, while 13% of drivers had the same.
Thus, being responsible with alcohol consumption is a good way to protect yourself and others from harm. Make sure you have a designated driver if you’re going to need transportation, and if you’re simply walking, you still might consider a cab to transport you the short distance to where you need to go.
With seven out of ten crashes taking place somewhere other than an intersection, you can further protect yourself by using a crosswalk. When you cross in the middle of the street, drivers may not be expecting you and could hit you. At an intersection, they should at least know to expect people and slow down accordingly.
What’s unclear is how many of these accidents can be attributed to distraction, but it’s likely that many dangerous circumstances, like crossing at the wrong place or wrong time, could be avoided by keeping one’s focus on the environment.