Getting out and about by walking is an excellent way to get in shape, boost confidence and really see the town from an angle you just can’t get in a car or by public transport. Indeed, walking to work as part of your commute or walking the kids to and from school can form an important part of your daily exercise routine. It’s also great for the environment – you leave no carbon footprint by walking to places. However, much like anything else, it’s important you consider your safety as a pedestrian before beating the concrete.
Safety on the Streets
While some people may advocate the construction of more safety features, such as more crossing points, broader streets, and protective barriers between the road and pedestrians, the easiest and simplest way to reduce your chances of being involved in an accident is to start with yourself. At the end of the day, you are responsible for your own safety. Thus, it’s up to you to ensure you take whatever steps are necessary to keep yourself safe while out and about on the streets.
After all, all the crossing guards, pelican crossings and stop signs on Earth won’t help you if you wilfully disregard the dangers of oncoming traffic.
It’s not all that bad. There are some essential safety tips that can greatly reduce your chances of being involved in an accident, protecting you as a pedestrian as well as drivers on the road and those around you. And a lot of them, are a practical application of good old common sense.
Those Essential Safety Tips
First, use designated crossings. This may seem simple, and it is. But nevertheless it’s perhaps surprising to see how many people feel the need to cross wherever they please on a stretch of road, even if it’s obviously very busy and not meant for foot traffic. All crossing areas are clearly marked, and often come at natural junctions on the road. Avoid the temptation to take “shortcuts” and cross a road recklessly. Chances are there’s a perfectly viable crossing just a minute further up the street.
Additionally, reckless crossing of streets can actually result in arrest (jaywalking). So to not only avoid a potential accident but a short stay in the city jail and a fine as well, it’s often best to just walk the extra distance.
Before crossing, always check the road by glancing left and right down the street to spot any incoming traffic. Unless the driver stops and invites you to cross, don’t try to race the car and cross before it reaches you. It can be very easy to misjudge speed and distance. For this same reason, avoid crossing in areas where your sight is obstructed, such as between parked cars or from behind large signs. Not only can you not see any oncoming traffic, they can’t see you either. Likewise, avoid wearing items that may obscure your vision, such as hoods or sunglasses. While crossing, keep looking back and forth down the road.
When walking across busy roads and streets, try not to let yourself be distracted either. If you receive a text or phone message, pause in a sensible place – such as by stepping out of the street and into the alcove of a building – before you answer it. Don’t ever read books or newspapers while walking, and keep your phone in your pocket. If chatting with a friend, keep your attention primarily on what’s going on around you.
If you find yourself on a stretch of road with no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the road facing oncoming traffic. Otherwise, always use pavements where possible.
Finally, when walking at night ensure you are visible. Wear bright, reflective clothing so that car headlights can pick you up easily, and keep a light source on you so you can see the road. If using a torch, do not shine it in the direction of incoming traffic. Dazzled drivers may skid off the road. Likewise, be cautious if you in turn are dazzled by the headlights of approaching vehicles.
Safety with Kids
When walking with children, always set a good example. Their own safety as pedestrians starts with you. Remember that children look up to you as a model for their own behaviour. If they see you respecting the traffic, being careful when crossing, and never making risks, they’ll do the same. The reverse is equally true. In addition to this, always try to do the following:
- Always hold your children’s hand/s when walking, especially when crossing a road. If pushing a buggy, keep both hands on the handles at all times, and let any other children hold onto it instead of your hands.
- Keep children on the inside of the sidewalk, on the side farthest away from the road.
- Show your children how to stop, look and listen. Getting them to learn road safety early is never a wasted effort.
- Show children relevant traffic and crossing signs. Teach them how to properly read and use them.
- Teach your kids to never run out onto the street or road for a pet, toy, or any other reason.
- Also teach them to never cross behind a vehicle, and to keep ten feet away from buses and trucks.
Following these simple steps on your walks will ensure your safety, for the most part. However, accidents do happen and in some cases can cause serious injuries. If you find yourself in this situation first and foremost seek medical attention. Though, after healing you may need to file a lawsuit, if that is the case make sure to do your research and find the appropriate attorney for your case. Like at Heil-Law, most attorneys will offer a free consultation to make sure that they can attend to you and your needs.
Christian Mills is a freelance writer and family man who contributes articles and insight into healthy living and families. If you would like to learn more about Christian, check out his Google+ profile.