When a Nice Stroll Turns Deadly: The Dangers of Walking
Have you ever taken a walk or strolled through a fast-paced city where you felt in danger? Maybe a car almost hit you when you tried to cross an intersection. Or maybe you had to walk in the road for a bit to get around some sidewalk construction. And maybe you’ve even occasionally jaywalked and put yourself in danger.
In other words, there are both things that you might do and that drivers might do to increase your risk of getting hit while walking. But what are the most common causes of pedestrian accidents? And what should you most look out for? These scenarios cover common causes of accidents based on pedestrian fault, driver fault, and situations with no one at fault.
Drivers Not Paying Attention
This is probably the most common cause of pedestrian accidents. Nowadays, there are many technologies and gadgets that can distract drivers such as cell phones, smartwatches, GPS systems, and streaming music. Of course, drivers don’t need technology for distractions. Food, coffee, finding something on the car floor, yelling at children, or putting on makeup also work well as distractions. When walking, look out for drivers who don’t make eye contact with you when you’re crossing into their path.
Pedestrians Ignoring Crosswalks
Unfortunately, this is a common, preventable cause of pedestrian accidents. As a driver, you’ve probably encountered people dangerously crossing busy roads in odd places. You don’t expect them to be there, and so you’re more likely to hit them when they show up in the middle of the road. As a pedestrian, you may be tempted to take a shortcut across a road rather than at a crosswalk. Don’t. Cross at a crosswalk. Otherwise, a driver might not be prepared to see you crossing a road where there isn’t a crosswalk.
Drunk drivers remain a common cause of pedestrian accidents. The reason is obvious. As a pedestrian, you may want to be extra careful on Friday or Saturday nights and stay alert any day of the week for drivers who are weaving all over the road.
Drivers Making Turns
Crosswalks where drivers must make turns are especially dangerous. Be extra careful crossing at any place where you’re in the path of a left turn, right turn, or a U-turn. Drivers get extra focused on the turn—not you.
These kinds of drivers speed way too fast, weave in and out of lanes impatiently, and even try to do things like pass school buses when the stop sign is showing. While crowded city traffic sometimes limits an angry driver’s ability to hit a pedestrian, you need to be especially careful in locations like parking lots or quiet residential areas where an aggressive driver may come out of nowhere.
Drivers Ignoring Stop Signs and Red Lights
Drivers going through stop signs and red lights is sadly common in most places. When crossing any intersection, always make sure no one is coming despite being given the “all clear” by the walk sign.
Pedestrians Ignoring Walk Signals
As a driver, have you ever noticed people starting to cross an intersection, the light turns green, and people are directly in your way? Of course, you’re forced to stop until they clear the road. But it’s a dangerous thing to do. Don’t cross unless you see the walk sign or that you have enough seconds on the countdown clock. Other drivers (especially if they’re distracted) may only see a green light—and not you.
Closed Sidewalks or Construction Blocking Walking Paths
A dangerous cause of accidents caused by neither pedestrians nor drivers is blocked sidewalks. If possible, backtrack until you find a crosswalk and then cross safely to the other side of the street. Otherwise, you take the dangerous risk of walking in the road and hoping a car isn’t coming. Too many people try to walk in the road to avoid these obstacles, increasing the risk of other drivers hitting you because they don’t have any room either.
By following these tips, you’ll become a more responsible pedestrian while also looking out for major warning signs. Overall, just be extra cautious when walking and never assume a driver is going to do what you think.
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