By Ian Slater
Regardless of the rules of the road for pedestrians and vehicles alike, the most important thing to consider in any situation is personal safety and the safety of others. Just because you have the right of way doesn’t mean you should take it. If you feel you are putting yourself at risk of injury, you need to rethink you priorities. Pedestrians need to put common sense first, and street rules second. The rules are there to protect us but they do not replace our own judgment completely.
When you learn to drive you are told to that you need to be aware of the drivers on the road with you and be prepared for them to make mistakes. Taking care of your own interests is not enough. This principle can apply to pedestrians as well, especially in busy areas of the city. It is important for pedestrians to be communicating with traffic. This doesn’t necessarily mean literal, verbal communication but can be as simple as making themselves visible at the side of a crosswalk. If you sprint across the street from out behind a bush you are asking for trouble. A pedestrian may even make eye contact with a driver, who is perhaps waiting to make a right turn, in order to communicate the intention to use the crosswalk. This insures that the driver is aware of the pedestrian.
Pedestrians have a lot more power than they sometimes imagine. They have the ability to communicate their intentions and cross streets in a safe manor that minimizes risks to themselves and drivers. Stepping out into a street from between cars, running across streets in the dying moments of a light, and texting while walking are all dangerous activities. Responsibility cannot lay with vehicle drivers alone.
In some instances sidewalks are scarce and crosswalks nonexistent, making it very difficult for pedestrians to navigate traffic. Visibility is once again a very important aspect to staying safe. Keeping a buffer space with vehicular traffic is essential and looking for alternative crossing points is worth a longer walk. Sometimes even a few hand signals can prompt traffic to slow down and make way for a pedestrian to enter onto the road. Moving in large groups is another tactic that helps to get the attention of traffic and is a more efficient method of crossing the street. The important thing is that all lanes of traffic are aware of the pedestrian and this is where once again eye contact can become very important.
Nighttime accidents are more common that daytime collisions due to an increased loss of visibility regarding pedestrians. This is where pedestrians need to take extra measures to ensure their safety. Wearing colorful, glow in the dark or reflective clothing makes a major difference. Even holding a light of some kind will make an individual a lot safer.
Once pedestrian see themselves as part of the larger orchestration of movement in a city they will begin to find better ways to communicate with traffic and keep themselves safe.