According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 6,283 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in 2018. While the cause of these accidents is varied, both drivers and pedestrians can take precautions to prevent and lower the rate of pedestrian accidents, especially in the cold winter months.
Slow down and observe conditions
In the winter, it is especially important to remain alert and observant while on the road. Keeping an inventory of your surroundings — other vehicles, pedestrians, and so on — is an essential part of reducing your chance of an accident.
When inclement weather hits, it is natural to want to get home or to work as fast as possible, but in reality, this puts you at a higher risk of a collision or pedestrian accident. Slowing down and taking note of other cars and pedestrians in the road will keep you and those in and around your vehicle safer.
Sidewalks may not be clear
During snowstorms, public works employees work tirelessly to make sure roads, sidewalks, and other areas are cleared and safe for drivers and pedestrians. Unfortunately, it can be hard to keep up with rampant snowfall, and clearing roads often takes priority over clearing sidewalks. This can cause pedestrians to walk in the road.
While it is recommended that pedestrians walk against traffic, many do not follow this rule, leaving them exposed in traffic. If you have to pass a pedestrian walking in the road, take care to slow down, and if you can, put extra distance between you and the walker.
There are several ways drivers and pedestrians can communicate, the most important being eye contact. If the weather conditions allow, try to make eye contact with any pedestrians to communicate who is going where on the road.
Be careful backing up
As of May 2018, all newly manufactured vehicles sold in the United States are required to have backup cameras installed as a standard safety feature. While this feature is very beneficial for many drivers, it is important to do a quick visual check of your surroundings as you are backing up. Limited visibility from weather or from being bundled up may make it harder for a pedestrian to see your car, so take extra caution when moving out of your parking space.
See and be seen
Wear bright, reflective clothing. Whether you are taking a stroll around your neighborhood or walking home from work, as a pedestrian, it’s important to wear bright, reflective clothing. This helps alert drivers of your presence and can help you avoid an accident.
Walk facing traffic. If conditions do not allow you to walk on the sidewalk, it is best to walk facing traffic. It can be daunting to have vehicles driving toward you, but this method allows you to see all cars on the road and anticipate if any are losing control.
Drivers expect pedestrians at crosswalks, so it is best to cross streets at these designated points. It is important to look for vehicles coming from all directions. If you are unable to cross at a crosswalk, go to an area that is well-lit and gives you a good view of traffic. Allow yourself extra time to get across the street in slippery, snowy, or low-visibility conditions.
Make eye contact
Communication is key for telegraphing your way through traffic conditions. Making eye contact with drivers helps you establish who is going where and if it is safe for you to cross the street or move through a parking area. Don’t assume every driver sees you — get confirmation!
Stay alert & be aware of your surroundings
Many of us like to walk and listen to music or podcasts, but in winter weather, it is best to remain alert and aware of your surroundings. This means paying attention to incoming and outgoing traffic from driveways, parking spaces, and other roadways.
If you are forced to walk in the road, keep your eyes on the road and off your phone. Seeing what drivers are doing around you can make all the difference in preventing an accident.
Have you been in an accident? Wondering if you need to file a personal injury case? Count on Chiariello & Chiariello for the legal representation you deserve. Proudly representing clients across Long Island, Queens, and New York City. Call 516-801-8100 today.