The following student essay was submitted as an entry in our scholarship essay contest.
By Joshua Ma
Pedestrian safety is a major problem in the United States. Too many people walk the moment the red hand changes to the faceless white figure. According to the CDC, in 2010, 4,280 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes, while another 70,000 were injured. These numbers are needlessly high and could easily be reduced by pedestrians taking extra precautions.
There is no guarantee that a car will stop for a pedestrian. Even with right of way, pedestrians still need to make sure that any approaching cars see them. A great preventative measure is to wear brightly colored clothes or to carry a flashlight during the night. Taking crosswalks can also ensure visibility and safety. Crosswalks are usually well lit, and fatalities are far more rare with a lit walk sign. Unfortunately, fatalities are still possible at crosswalks, so additional preventative measures must be taken.
It is important for pedestrians to be mindful of any approaching cars that try but fail to beat the red light. Another common source of danger is a car that is trying to make a turn on a red light. The pedestrian has the right of way, but many drivers do not know or do not care.
If there is no crosswalk, pedestrians need to be even more mindful of cars approaching from either direction. It is especially important to notice cars in the distance. Often times, it’s difficult to judge the car’s speed, so a healthy margin of error is necessary. Still, most drivers have no issues with stopping to let pedestrians walk.
There will occasionally be moments where drivers are not willing to brake for pedestrians. Pedestrians who need to cross the street will need to take the most precautions yet. If this happens far from a crosswalk, a pedestrian must look for any natural breaks to the flow of traffic, such as stop signs, traffic lights, etc. If that is also not possible, then it is up to the pedestrian to check both directions for oncoming traffic and hurry across the street as quickly as possible.
Personal responsibility is important. If individuals are not actively looking out for their personal welfare, then no amount of help from others can ensure it. While there are many reckless drivers in the world, pedestrians need to remember that safety begins with self. Taking extra precautions can help ensure far fewer fatalities.