During the pandemic, U.S. roadways have seen a decrease in vehicle traffic and an increase in pedestrian and cyclist traffic. Everyone benefits from less pollution, more fresh air and increased exercise. But along with the positive effects, comes a grim reminder of the dangers of being a pedestrian.
In 2018, 6,283 pedestrians were killed in the U.S. by cars. That includes 44 people in metro St. Louis, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Across the U.S., the number represents a 50% increase in the last decade. Pedestrians and cyclists now account for roughly one in five of all traffic deaths nationwide. This October, NHTSA launched the first National Pedestrian Safety Month with the goal of increasing awareness about pedestrian safety and reminding drivers and pedestrians that staying safe is a shared responsibility.
Both drivers and pedestrians are encouraged to do their part to keep each other safe. Both parties should be aware of risk factors such as, visibility, weather, drugs, alcohol, and distraction – which not only affect someone’s ability to drive, but also to walk safely.
The NHTSA offers drivers and pedestrians these safety tips:
5 Walking Safety Tips
- Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available. If one isn’t available, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
- Always keep alert; don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road.
- Whenever possible, cross streets at crosswalks or intersections, where drivers expect pedestrians, and look for cars in all directions, including those turning. If neither are available, locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross safely and watch for traffic as you cross.
- Always be visible. Wear bright clothing during the day and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night. Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach to make sure you are seen.
- Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways, or backing up in parking lots.
5 Driving Safety Tips
- Look out for pedestrians everywhere, always. Use extra caution when driving in hard-to-see conditions, such as nighttime or bad weather.
- Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk. And, never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. There may be people crossing that you can’t see.
- Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, and stop well back from the crosswalk to give other vehicles an opportunity to see and stop for the crossing pedestrians.
- Follow the speed limit, especially around people on the street. Follow slower speed limits in school zones and in neighborhoods where children are present.
- Be extra cautious when backing up—pedestrians can move into your path.
No matter how you use the roads, be sure to keep safety at the forefront and stay safe.