Whether you walk for fun, for your health or as a means of transportation, everyone is a pedestrian at some point. According to data collected by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) in 2016 there were 5,987 pedestrians killed in traffic collisions in the United States.
On average, a pedestrian was killed every 1.5 hours. In Bakersfield, there were a total of 590 pedestrian collisions from 2016 through 2018. Of the 590 collisions, 45 were fatalities and 490 involved injuries.
In order to keep yourself and your family members safe it’s important to know the basics of pedestrian safety.
Walking Safety Tips
Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
Walk defensively and be ready for unexpected events. Know what’s going on around you and don’t allow your vision to be blocked by clothing, hats, or items that you are carrying.
Watch the pedestrian signals, not the traffic signal, and follow the “WALK/DON’T WALK” lights (they’re set up to help you cross safely).
Adults should supervise children when crossing streets. Smaller children may be difficult for drivers to see and young children may not be able to judge whether it is safe to cross a street.
Keep alert at all times; don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road. Avoid talking on cell phones or listening to music on headphones while walking.
Always cross streets at crosswalks or intersections, where drivers expect pedestrians. Stop at the curb and look left, right, and left again to look for any traffic coming from any direction. Continue watching for traffic as you cross.
Never step out onto the street from between two parallel parked cars. Always use an intersection.
Never rely on a car to stop. Do not assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach to make sure you are seen.
Be visible at all times. Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective items on clothing, shoes and backpacks. Use flashlights at night.
Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways and parking garages, or backing up in parking lots.
Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your abilities and your judgment. If you have been drinking, walk with someone who has not been drinking to make sure you get home safely.
Driving Safety Tips
Look out for pedestrians everywhere, at all times. Safety is a shared responsibility.
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.
Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and stop well back from the cross-walk to give other vehicles an opportunity to see the crossing pedestrians so they can stop too.
Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. There may be people crossing that you can’t see.
Never drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Follow slower speed limits in school zones and in neighborhoods where children are present.
Stop at least 10 feet from either direction of a school bus that is stopped for loading or unloading children and displaying flashing lights and the stop signal arm. This rule also applies if you’re on the opposite roadway, unless it is a divided highway.
Be extra cautious when backing up—pedestrians can move into your path.