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Motorists and pedestrians must watch out for each other

Studies indicate that walking has become a more dangerous activity than it was a couple of decades ago. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), pedestrian injuries have been on the decline, but in 2012, the statistics took a jump and injuries now stand at about 4,800 annually. As with all methods of travel, there is a certain amount of risk. However, there is no accurate data to tell us how many minutes or hours people spend walking every day, or how often they cross the street, thereby becoming exposed to traffic dangers. Although vehicles are not found to be the primary cause of pedestrian accidents, they do hold a significant place on the list of reasons behind the injuries and fatalities suffered by walkers.

The greatest risks to walkers

Because lack of activity is identified as a contributing factor in heart attacks and strokes, walking is encouraged by health care professionals. Results of the 2012 National Survey on Bicyclist and Pedestrian Attitudes and Behaviors show that an uneven or cracked sidewalk is the leading cause of pedestrian injury. Trips and falls take second place, followed by the misfortune of being struck by a vehicle.

How to enjoy a safer walk around traffic

Statistics compiled by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the NHTSA reveal that the average age of pedestrians killed in 2014 was 47 and that 70 percent were males. However, no matter what their age or sex, all walkers should follow basic safety tips when traffic is present:

Be visible; wear light colors, especially at night, in low-light conditions and in inclement weather

  • Make eye contact with drivers whenever possible to ensure they see you
  • Stay in well-lit areas after dark
  • Avoid distractions, which means putting away your smartphone or tablet
  • Do not wear earphones; use your ears as well as your eyes and be alert to what is going around you
  • Always try to anticipate what drivers will do, and never assume they will give you the right-of-way

Motorist etiquette around pedestrians

As a driver, you must be on the lookout for pedestrians at all times. Children can dart out from between parked vehicles, and college students on campus may cross the street without looking. Tips include:

  • Follow posted speed limits, especially where there is a high concentration of pedestrian traffic.
  • Reduce your speed as you approach a crosswalk and prepare to stop for pedestrians.
  • Be especially aware of people who might be behind you when you back out of a driveway or parking space.
  • Turn on your headlights when visibility is limited.
  • Never drink and drive.

Accidents can still happen

Despite the best intentions of both pedestrians and motorists, accidents still occur and injuries often result. If you become involved in such an accident, you can turn to an experienced personal injury attorney who is standing by to offer the legal support you need.

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Fitzpatrick, Skemp & Associates, LLC
123 7th St S
La Crosse, WI 54601

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