School's Open - Pedestrian Safety Tips
According to the Federal Highway Administration, 15 percent of kids today travel to school on foot or on a bicycle, compared with 42 percent in 1969. New York has the fourth highest annual pedestrian deaths and injuries in the United States. Fortunately, the fatality rate for children pedestrians has dropped dramatically over the last 30 years or so, decreasing 84 percent since 1975. With schools opening for the year, it seems timely to point out some safety tips for pedestrians:
- DON'T assume that obeying "Walk/Don't Walk" lights decreases your risk of getting hit. Studies show that standard pedestrian signals have no effect on pedestrian-motor vehicle accident rates compared with nonsignalized intersections. Only signals that permit a pedestrian-exclusive interval, that is those that stop vehicular traffic in all directions simultaneously, make a real difference in cutting pedestrian accident rates.
- DON'T assume that a red light will stop traffic. It is suggested that before stepping off the curb, a pedestrian should look left, right, and then left again. Making eye contact with drivers helps, especially when the car may be turning: nearly one in four right-on-red violations results in a pedestrian-motor vehicle accident.
- DON'T assume you can always cross safely when the driver of a stopped car or truck waves an "OK". Sometimes the stopped vehicle can act as an obstacle blocking the view of drivers overtaking it in the next lane. It is suggested that pedestrians stop before clearing the first automobile and make eye contact with all oncoming drivers.
- DON'T assume that wearing white at night lets drivers see you. Although a white shirt improves visibility as compared to dark clothing, the improvement is still not enough under many circumstances to prevent an accident. Experts recommend carrying a flashlight and wearing reflective or retroreflective clothing that increase the distance at which motor vehicle drivers can see you by more than six-fold.
- DON'T just walk home when you have had too much to drink. 34 percent of pedestrians age 16 or older killed in traffic accidents had a blood-alcohol level at or above 0.08, the legal limit for drivers in New York State. Alcohol can impair the judgment and motor skills of pedestrians just as it does for drivers. Instead of walking, take a cab, subway or bus when you have been drinking.