Did you know that every day across the country, 44 children are hit by cars?
That’s a frightening statistic. Now that school’s back in session, and more and more kids are walking to school, knowing the most common accident scenarios and being prepared can help prevent tragedies. Please note that these tips have been culled from Safe Kids, supplemented with my own editorial additions.
1. Head Up, Phone Down. Believe it or not, texting and constant phone use doesn’t only plague drivers. How many times do you see someone walking by, staring at their phone, oblivious to their surroundings? We’ve all seen this conduct, and I confess, I’m guilty of it too at times. Safe Kids says that 20% of high school students will cross the street today while distracted.
Keep your head up when you’re walking, and stay alert to your surroundings and traffic patterns so you don’t become another statistic.
2. Don’t Jaywalk! It’s tempting to save time by crossing that busy street instead of taking the extra three minutes to walk to the corner and cross there. But what if a car makes a quick right turn and steps on it, not expecting to see a pedestrian (illegally) navigating across the pavement? The amount of times I’ve seen parents doing this with small children is baffling. Don’t jaywalk, ever.
3. Be Visible At Night. Seventy-five percent of teenage pedestrian deaths occur at night. If you’re crossing (at a designated crosswalk, of course), use your iPhone or Android’s flashlight function to signal your location to oncoming drivers. Don’t be afraid to use your voice either. The likelihood that drivers won’t see you increases at night, so these small steps can alert them to your presence and prevent accidents. If you suspect an oncoming driver cannot see you, you’re probably right. Wait for him to pass, then walk.
4. Be Extra Alert at Crosswalks that Don’t Have Stop Lights. In Los Angeles, these types of pedestrian crossings are very common. Even though pedestrians have the right of way, that’s not going to prevent an inattentive driver from respecting this right. Don’t be defiant about enforcing this right either. You can be right, but dead right. Wait for a break in traffic before beginning to cross these crosswalks. Cross one lane at a time.
5. Don’t Walk in the Road. Ever. If there’s no sidewalk, experts advise to walk against oncoming traffic, as close as possible to the shoulder.
6. Watch Out For Reversing Cars. Many brand new cars come equipped with back-up cameras, and drivers are relying on these more and more. The problem is that the cameras are intended to assist you with backing up, not complete the job for you. If you’re walking and suspect that a car up ahead will begin reversing, wait for him to complete this maneuver before proceeding. Chances are he won’t bother looking over his shoulder to see you.
7. Cross Lane-By-Lane. Many streets have multiple lanes going in each direction. Once you clear one lane, stop (or slow down) before dashing out to cross the second one. Make eye contact with each driver so he or she knows you are crossing and lets you pass.
Pedestrian accidents can be devastating. By staying alert and keeping these tips in mind, you can go a long way in preventing these preventable accidents.
I encourage everyone to visit the interactive at Safe Kids to see a visual demonstration of how these tips can prevent accidents.
Stay safe as you walk, and for any questions the Rabbi Lawyer is one phone call away.