A rise in pedestrian deaths in Maine and other states has prompted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to look more closely at ways to keep those traveling by foot safer. According to the NHTSA, there were 4,432 pedestrian fatalities in 2011. This was an 8% increase since 2009. The NHTSA has noted that pedestrian deaths made up 14% of all traffic fatalities in 2011. Most of them took place in urban environments at night. Many happened in connection with alcohol consumption — either the driver’s consumption or the pedestrian’s. The Federal Highway Administration has spent $3.8 billion in the pursuit of implementing 11,000 pedestrian safety projects.
As a consequence, NHTSA has created a pedestrian safety campaign that offers tips to all pedestrians so that pedestrian fatalities may be avoided. It has also offered $2 million grants to those cities with the highest rates of pedestrian fatalities.
Although we are all pedestrians at some point, we don’t all follow the rules of pedestrian safety. The NHTSA has put forth a detailed list of rules that will help different groups of pedestrians stay safe.
Being predictable pedestrian is rule number one. That means you should follow road rules and obey traffic signals so drivers can anticipate your next steps, should they encounter you as a pedestrian during their travels. Other major road rules include walking on sidewalks when possible, and walking while facing traffic as far from the traffic as possible when there is no sidewalk. You need to stay alert, just as you would while driving. In addition, you should not text or talk on your cell phone while walking on a city street, particularly if you’re crossing the street or not able to walk on a sidewalk, as this increases the likelihood of distraction on your part.
Clothing can impact your safety as well. Since many pedestrian fatalities happen at night, it may be helpful to increase visibility by wearing light clothing and reflective patches or strips. Alternatively, you could carry a flashlight. As we’ve noted in another post, many people nowadays would rather walk home from a bar rather than drive drunk. Unfortunately, walking at night while under the influence can be very dangerous as alcohol impairs your judgment for purposes of walking as well as driving.
If you are a parent, you should take special care to make sure your child understands road safety rules. Kids walking home after school or while playing face particular dangers. Often they are more impulsive than their adult counterparts. Their understanding of rules must be more than basic in order to walk around on city streets without supervision.
For example, kids may believe a green light means “go.” In actuality, they need to know that they should still look left, then right, and make sure it’s clear before crossing the road.
Children need to be aware of cars making right turns that may not be as alert about their presence because of their smaller statures. Similarly, children may not understand that they are not always safe in a crosswalk and that drivers are not as vigilant as they should be.
Kids walking alone after dark need more than light clothing. They should wear reflective stripes, shoes with lights, or carry a flashlight.
If you or a loved one is hurt or killed in an accident while walking, you may need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney to help determine appropriate theories of liability under Maine law. At Briggs & Wholey, our knowledgeable attorneys are available to answer any questions you may have. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced advocate, please contact Briggs & Wholey, LLC at (888) 596-1099 or through our website today.
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