Walking. It’s a great way to get and stay in shape. It helps ease traffic woes by reducing the number of vehicles on the road. And with today’s gas prices, walking can help stretch those dollars at the pump a little further. Now that summer and good weather are finally here, you can expect to see more people out and about for a leisurely stroll, running errands, or working off those extra winter pounds.
The problem is, pedestrians are extremely vulnerable. According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 300 people nationwide will be injured and receive emergency room care as a result of pedestrian-related injuries in an average 24 hour period. On average, one person will die from traffic-related trauma in the next two hours. In 2007, more than 4,800 pedestrians were killed and over 118,000 were injured by motor vehicles.
A survey of pedestrian-related injuries and deaths in 2009 by the Department of Transportation revealed the following statistics:
- Males are more likely to be injured or killed than females.
- Pedestrians aged 65 years and older have a higher fatality rate than all other age groups.
- Almost 20% of traffic-related deaths of children under 14 are pedestrian fatalities.
- Approximately 40% of all pedestrian fatalities involving children 16 and under occur between 3:00 and 7:00 PM.
- 48% of all pedestrian traffic fatalities occur on the weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday).
- An overwhelming majority (77%) of all pedestrian deaths occur between 4:00 PM and 4:00 AM.
- Alcohol was involved, in either the driver or pedestrian, in 48% of all pedestrian fatalities.
- Urban pedestrians are more likely (72%) to be killed than their rural counterparts.
- Three quarters of pedestrian fatalities occur at non-intersection locations.
- A whopping 89% of collision-related pedestrian fatalities occurred during normal weather!
In light of these numbers, it is important to keep these simple things in mind to avoid the risk of injury or death when walking near roadways:
- Always cross the street at intersections and use designated crosswalks whenever possible.
- Even though crossing the street at intersections is vastly safer than elsewhere, pedestrians should be wary of drivers who fail to yield the right of way to pedestrians when turning onto another street.
- Pedestrians should increase their visibility at night by carrying a flashlight and wearing light-reflective clothing.
- Walk on the sidewalk whenever possible. If a sidewalk is not present, walk on the outside of the lane facing oncoming traffic.
- Don’t drink and walk on or near roadways!
- When driving, remember to always yield the right of way to pedestrians at all times.
In addition to the tips above, additional resources for increasing safety for children pedestrians are provided below.
- International Walk to School in the USA: http://www.iwalktoschool.org/
- Safe Kids USA: http://www.safekids.org/
- National Center for Safe Routes to School: http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/