Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

Common Hazards for Pedestrians

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that over 5,300 pedestrians were killed and over 70,000 were injured in traffic collisions in 2015. These deaths and injuries were the results of things like distracted walking, distracted driving, and many more factors that aren’t always recordable. But, that same report suggests that the overall rate of pedestrian fatalities is growing steadily each year.

Whether you’re on your morning commute to work or you’re sending your kids off to school, it’s easy to forget about some of the common domestic dangers that can occur in your own neighborhood. But pedestrian fatalities are on the rise, and it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers that could affect you and your family.

What’s even more important is knowing what you can do to help lower some of these risks. Let’s cover some of the most common hazards for pedestrians so you can take active steps to be safer while you’re walking and more alert when you’re the one behind the wheel.

What Are the Most Common Risks for Pedestrians?

There are a number of different hazards pedestrians need to be aware of, whether they’re in a big city or a small neighborhood. Distracted drivers are a big problem all over the country. Distracted driving itself is nothing new, but with the popularity of smartphones and other devices, it’s become a bigger issue in recent years. Some common distractions for drivers include:

  • Texting
  • Putting on makeup
  • Eating
  • Checking GPS
  • Talking on the phone

It doesn’t matter what distracts a driver — losing focus on the road for even a second can lead to a serious accident. Unfortunately, losing focus isn’t uncommon on the road.

Another way drivers behind the wheel become hazards for pedestrians is when they’re tired. Sleep deprivation has many symptoms and side effects. Some of these include daytime sleepiness, impaired performance, and difficulty concentrating. If you didn’t get enough sleep the night before and get behind the wheel of your car to go to work, you’re putting yourself, your passengers, and pedestrians on the street at risk.

One potential hazard that could become more of a problem in the future is the use of autonomous vehicles. Self-driving cars are a great concept, and they could be a big help to many people. But, it’s important to be aware of their potential flaws. Technology isn’t perfect, and the sensors on these vehicles can fail. The next generation of drivers needs to be especially diligent in paying attention to autonomous vehicles and how they work on the roads.

How Can Communities Cut Down On Pedestrian Hazards?

Some states have higher pedestrian fatalities than others. The highest numbers of pedestrian fatalities occur on local streets and highways, so it’s no real surprise that states like California, Texas, and Florida make up a large part of pedestrian accidents. Things like population growth and light level are big factors when it comes to increased risks for pedestrians. No matter where you live, though, keeping yourself and your family safe on the street is a community issue.

So, what can you do to help your community cut back on some of these hazards? If your city/town has regular town hall meetings, don’t be afraid to address this subject. Consider doing the following:

  • Encourage things like clearer signage in high-traffic areas and near crosswalks. Suggest more streetlights be installed to illuminate this signage if accidents are happening in the early morning hours or at night.
  • Things like community curfews can also help if you live in a typically noisy neighborhood. Noise ordinances can force neighbors to keep their volume down after a certain time of night, so you can ensure you get a restful night’s sleep.
  • Discuss technological advancements, such as self-driving cars, to ensure that all community members are aware of potential risks. This can be a big help to your community and the safety of its pedestrians. Establishing guidelines for self-driving cars now will make it an easier transition as they become more popular.

As a community, looking out for each other should be your top priority. If you notice any potential hazards to pedestrians in your community, speak up!

Keeping Kids Safe From Vehicle Accidents

Every pedestrian needs to be vigilant and alert when they’re walking on a sidewalk or crossing the road. But children, the elderly, and those with certain health issues are especially at risk, as they may not always be fully aware of what might be going on around them. Being an advocate for them and helping them get where they’re going can make a big difference in their safety.

If your child is walking to school for the first time, it’s important to set up a routine and a safety plan they can follow. You should also practice with them ahead of time so they’re comfortable with the rules of walking in the street or on a sidewalk. Some tips you should teach your child include:

  • Look both ways before crossing a street
  • Stay on the sidewalk whenever possible
  • Learn what road signs mean
  • Never run across the road or chase after something

The best thing you can do to teach your child safe pedestrian practices is to lead by example. Remember basic pedestrian rules when you’re out with them, and show them how to safely walk on the sidewalk, the street, follow signs, and so on. When you’re more aware of your surroundings, you can help to do your part to prevent pedestrian accidents from happening. By implementing more changes to protect pedestrians in big cities and small towns alike, fatality and injury statistics can finally start to decline.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.
Tim Esterdahl

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