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Walk this way: Tips for ensuring pedestrian safety

Published: Friday, November 03, 2017 @ 12:00 AM

Daylight saving time ends this weekend, and with it will come shorter days and earlier sunsets. This also will mean more challenging commutes for both drivers and pedestrians.  

More than 75% of pedestrian fatalities happen in the dark or during low-light times, and many involve either the driver or the walker being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you’re walking during dawn or dusk, make it easier for drivers to see you by wearing reflective clothing or using a flashlight or blinking reflector somewhere on your body.  

Speed also plays a role in pedestrian-motor vehicle crashes and increases the injury potential. At a vehicle impact speed of 17 miles per hour (MPH), the risk of a pedestrian being seriously injured or killed is only 10%. The risk rises to 25% for serious injury or fatality at 25 MPH; 50% at 33 MPH; 75% at 41 MPH; and 90% at 48 MPH.  

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In response to the recent increase in pedestrian-related crashes in the area, the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC) created the Street Smart ad campaign. It is designed to remind both motorists and pedestrians to be aware on busy city streets.  

“Pedestrians are the least physically protected and most vulnerable users of our transportation network,” said Brian O. Martin, AICP, executive director of MVRPC. “When we learned how pedestrian fatalities rose by 10% nationally from 2014 to 2015 and, even more dramatically, how they doubled in Ohio during the same time period, we knew we had to raise awareness about this deadly issue. We are all pedestrians for at least a part of our trip to and from our bus, bicycle, automobile, parking garage, home or employer.”

In the Dayton area, you can see Street Smart posters, billboards, bus ads and more that feature the message “You can’t fix a pedestrian in a body shop.” Photos of men, women, and children with black tire tracks across their faces remind drivers that pedestrians are defenseless against a vehicle. The campaign also provides these guidelines… 

Drivers should:

  • Be alert for pedestrians, especially in low-light situations.
  • Always yield to pedestrians – it is better to focus on safety than on who is “right.”
  • Obey all traffic and speed laws, especially red light and stop sign regulations.
  • Be particularly careful around buses – look out for passengers getting on and off.
  • Keep your eyes on the road and don’t drive distracted.

Pedestrians should: 

  • Use a sidewalk, if there is one, and if you must walk in the street, walk on the left, facing 
  • Wear light-colored or reflective clothing at night, at dawn or at dusk. 
  • Consider wearing lights or just carry a flashlight, if you regularly walk or jog at night.
  • Use crosswalks when they are available.
  • Make eye contact with any approaching vehicle’s driver, even if it is your turn to cross at a light.
  • Watch out for turning vehicles at intersections, even if you have the pedestrian crossing signal. 
  • Look out for drivers who seem distracted or who are driving strangely. Move farther away from the road if you are concerned.
  • Don’t walk distracted. Look up from your cellphone when crossing a street or, better still, put it away entirely when walking along a busy road.
Everyone should remember that, not only can driving under the influence be fatal, but walking under the influence can be, too. To learn more about pedestrian safety, visit www.MVRPC.org/street-smart