Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital
Staying Safe when Walking!
Most people think of walking as a very safe activity. However, walking near roads and vehicle traffic increases the risk of being hit by a motor vehicle. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 4,735 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in 2013 and more than 150,000 pedestrians were treated in emergency departments for crash-related injuries. In the state of Missouri, there were 73 pedestrian fatalities, accounting for almost 10 percent of total traffic fatalities in 2013.
Some pedestrians are at greater risk than others. People 65 years of age and older made up 19 percent of all pedestrian-motor vehicle collision deaths in 2013. Children are also at greater risk of being hit by vehicles when walking, running or playing near roads. Using alcohol/drugs or being distracted by cell phones and music players also increases the risk of unsafe walking.
Thankfully, observing certain common sense safety measures while walking or while behind the wheel can help prevent pedestrian-motor vehicle accidents.
For pedestrians, stay on designated paths or sidewalks. If there is no sidewalk available, walk on the shoulder facing oncoming traffic. Stay alert and do not let electronic devices take your eyes and ears off of the road. Make certain that drivers see you by making eye contact with them. Cross streets at intersections or crosswalks. If crosswalks are not available, try crossing in a well-lit area and when there are gaps in traffic. Keep your head up and keep scanning for on-coming vehicles. Wear bright clothing in the daylight and reflective clothing at night to help drivers notice you while walking. Teach your children and grandchildren about staying safe around traffic.
When driving, keep on the lookout for pedestrians particularly in urban and suburban areas. Always stop for pedestrians at crosswalks. Never pass cars stopped at a crosswalk. Stay focused, slow down and stay alert for pedestrians and children. Be prepared to stop and always follow the speed limit. Be particularly cautious when school buses are picking up or dropping of students. Avoid the use of alcohol or other substances that may impair functioning while operating a motor vehicle.
Now that summer is here, many Veterans and their families will be enjoying the outdoors and traveling. So stay safe this summer by keeping these tips in mind, whether you are enjoying a nice walk in the neighborhood or traveling to your vacation destination.