How can pedestrians stay safer?

Whether you are out for a long jog or briefly walking to your parked car, you are a pedestrian. As a pedestrian, you deal with unique risks on the road – and even the sidewalks. So, what should you know?

You have the right-of-way

In many cases, pedestrians do have the right-of-way. For example, you have the right-of-way at designated crosswalks.

Even if you do not have the right-of-way, motorists must be alert. They are the ones controlling a heavy vehicle, after all, and it is their responsibility under Tennessee law to operate that vehicle safely. Yet, with the steady increase and risk of distracted drivers on the road, you do not want to leave your safety to chance.

What can you do?

Motorists are responsible for seeing and yielding to pedestrians. However, you can take aspects of your safety into your own hands as well with these steps:

  • Be aware of the rules: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) illustrates some tips to promote pedestrian safety, such as making sure you follow traffic laws and signals. However, the first step in accomplishing this is actually understanding the traffic rules pertaining to pedestrians. Everyone is a pedestrian at some point, so it is worth it to take some time to know the most important laws regarding pedestrian safety.
  • Turn the music down: It is very common to see pedestrians with their headphones in while walking or running. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but make sure you can still hear outside noises in your environment. It also helps to be extra sure you are visually aware of your surroundings – especially when crossing the street – while listening to music.
  • Avoid texting: Texting while walking or crossing the street can put pedestrians in serious danger. Some cities across the United States have gone to extreme measures, passing laws or considering bills that actually ban “distracted walking.” These laws are controversial, but they do point out the risk of looking down at your phone when you should be focused on your surroundings.

Remember: As a pedestrian, you are one of the most vulnerable road users. You do not have the physical protection that motorists have.  If it is dark, you should wear something reflective to help be seen.  If you are crossing the street, you need to be alert for cars and not expect that they will stop, even if you are in a marked crosswalk.  So, even though it is also up to motorists to protect pedestrians, pedestrians can take necessary steps to increase their safety.

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