Everyone is a Pedestrian

Whether “my other car is a Mack Truck” or something a bit smaller, we all spend time walking from place to place, too.  Pedestrian safety is a big issue since vehicles and pedestrians interact at intersections, crosswalks and other places.

The term “pedestrian” actually includes more than just people walking along the road — according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), A pedestrian is 490x300-peds…any person on foot, walking, running, jogging, hiking, sitting or lying down who is involved in a motor vehicle traffic crash.

NHTSA recently released a revised Traffic Safety Fact sheet on Pedestrians, and launched a new web site to help educate about the opportunity to prevent injuries (http://www.nhtsa.gov/nhtsa/everyoneisapedestrian/index.html)

Consider that:

In 2011, 4,432 pedestrians were killed and an estimated 69,000 were injured in
traffic crashes in the United States. On average, a pedestrian was killed every two
hours and injured every eight minutes in traffic crashes.  (Traffic Safety Facts: Pedestrians, August, 2013)

Clearly, we have a responsibility to raise our collective awareness of the issues that lead to these injuries and deaths in order to prevent them.

Interesting factoids about pedestrian collisions recorded during 2011 (most recent complete year of stats available):

  • PEDESTRIAN-SIGN2Pedestrian deaths accounted for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities
  • Almost three-fourths (73%) of pedestrian fatalities occurred in an urban setting versus a rural setting.
  • Over two-thirds (70%) of pedestrian fatalities occurred at non-intersections versus at intersections.
  • Eighty-eight percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred during normal weather conditions (clear/cloudy), compared to rain, snow and foggy conditions.
  • A majority of the pedestrian fatalities, 70 percent, occurred during the nighttime (6 p.m. – 5:59 a.m.)
  • The 4,432 pedestrian fatalities in 2011 were an increase of 3 percent from 2010
  • Older pedestrians (age 65+) accounted for 19 percent (844) of all pedestrian fatalities and an estimated 10 percent (7,000) of all pedestrians injured
  • The fatality rate for older pedestrians (age 65+) was 2.04 per 100,000 population – higher than the rate for all the other ages
  • Over one-fifth (21%) of all children between the ages of 10 and 15 who were killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians.
  • Children age 15 and younger accounted for 6 percent of the pedestrian fatalities in 2011 and 19 percent of all pedestrians injured in traffic crashes
  • Thirty-two percent of the pedestrian fatalities occurred in crashes between 8 p.m. and 11:59 p.m.
  • The highest percentage of weekday and weekend fatalities also occurred between 8 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. (27% and 39%, respectively).

What can we do to prevent injuries and fatalities?

NHTSA offers a series of recommendations:

For Pedestrians:

  • Walk on a sidewalk or path whenever they are available.
  • If there is no sidewalk or path available, walk facing traffic (on the left side of the road) on the shoulder, as far away from traffic as possible. Keep alert at all times; don’t be distracted by electronic devices, including radios, smart phones and other devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road environment.
  • Be cautious night and day when sharing the road with vehicles. Never assume a driver sees you (he or she could be distracted, under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, or just not seeing you). Try to make eye contact with drivers as they approach you to make sure you are seen.
  • Be predictable as a pedestrian. Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections whenever possible. This is where drivers expect pedestrians.
  • If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area, wait for a gap in traffic that allows you enough time to cross safely, and continue to watch for traffic as you cross.
  • Stay off of freeways, restricted-access highways and other pedestrian-prohibited roadways.
  • Be visible at all times. Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flash light at night.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your abilities and judgment too.

For Drivers:

  • Look out for pedestrians everywhere, at all times. Very often pedestrians are not walking where they should be.
  • Be especially vigilant for pedestrians in hard-to-see conditions, such as nighttime or in bad weather.
  • Slowdown and be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk.
  • Always stop for pedestrians in crosswalks and stop well back from the crosswalk to give other vehicles an opportunity to see the crossing pedestrians so they can stop too.
  • Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. They are stopped to allow pedestrians to cross the street.
  • Never drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Follow the speed limit, especially around pedestrians.
  • Follow slower speed limits in school zones and in neighborhoods where there are children present. 

Did you know that fact sheets on other topics are available from the National Center for Statistics and Analysis?  Topics cover issues like: Alcohol-Impaired Driving, Bicyclists and Other Cyclists, Children, Large Trucks, Motorcycles, Occupant Protection, Older Population, Rural/Urban Comparisons, School Transportation-Related Crashes, Speeding, State Alcohol Estimates, State Traffic Data, and Young Drivers.

Detailed data on motor vehicle traffic crashes are published annually in Traffic Safety Facts: A Compilation of Motor Vehicle Crash Data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and the General Estimates System.

The fact sheets and annual Traffic Safety Facts report can be accessed online at www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/CATS/index.aspx.

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