Tips for Drivers on Avoiding Pedestrian Accidents
Yesterday I blogged about how, while the overall incidence of pedestrian fatalities has dropped over the past 30 years, pedestrian deaths are still a serious problem. In urban areas or suburban, in the day time or at night, it is all too easy for drivers to fail to notice pedestrians or exhibit behaviors that put pedestrians at risk.
If there’s one truism about pedestrian deaths, it is that it takes two to tango. While pedestrians may sometimes behave in dangerous ways, such as crossing against the light or outside the cross walk, or walking in the road, drivers are ultimately the greater danger simply because they are driving a 3,000 lb. car.
Below are some tips for drivers on how they need to adapt their driving behavior in order to take pedestrians into account.
1.) Keep in mind that you can encounter pedestrians at any time in any place. Just because there is no marked crosswalk or sidewalk doesn’t meant that a pedestrian isn’t nearby.
2.) Pedestrians can be hard to see. This is especially true at night or in bad conditions. If you can’t see well, slow down. Give yourself plenty of time to stop if you are surprised by a pedestrian. (In rural areas, this is an important tactic to use in case of deer and other wildlife as well.)
3.) Be doubly mindful of crosswalk areas. Even if you have the right of way, be very aware of pedestrians and be prepared to stop.
4.) Stop for pedestrians who are in a crosswalk, even if it is not well marked on the road. And do the pedestrian a favor and stop well back, allowing drivers in other lanes to see the pedestrian as well.
5.) Do not overtake or pass other vehicles stopped for pedestrians.
6.) When you are turning, you may be looking closely for a gap in traffic in which to turn through. Keep in mind that pedestrians may have entered the crosswalk while you are turned away. Just as with crossing the street, look both ways and make sure you are all clear before making a turn.
7.) Be especially attentive around schools and other neighborhoods where children are likely to be playing. Children can get intent in their game and forget traffic safety, or they may have a hazy grasp of traffic safety to begin with. Go slow through school zones and neighborhoods, and be prepared for children exhibiting erratic behavior. Give yourself plenty of room to stop. The alternative – hitting a child with your car – is unthinkable.
8.) Don’t drink and drive. This is, of course, common knowledge, but studies have shown that most pedestrian deaths occur between 12pm and 6am and on Fridays and Saturdays, times when drunk drivers are typically more active than normal on the roads.
This post is not to imply that pedestrians never act irrationally or even illegally, but these tips are important for drivers to keep in mind because, in a pedestrian accident, the driver generally always does damage. Be mindful of pedestrians and the damage that a car can do to a human being.