ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — October is National Pedestrian Safety Month. The pandemic has pushed lots of people to turn to the outdoors for recreation over the past few months, so it’s more important than ever to be on the lookout for walkers, and to be a responsible pedestrian.
We’re all pedestrians at one time or another during a normal day, whether we’re in a crosswalk, an intersection, or even a parking lot. Many of us are on the other end of keeping pedestrians safe when we’re operating a vehicle.
Over the last decade, the number of pedestrians killed has grown by about 50%. Walkable Albany looks at improving safety for pedestrians and vulnerable road users, and advocates for walkable development in the city of Albany.
Walkable Albany founder Andrew Neidhart says even when a pedestrian is crossing appropriately, there’s still a level of danger, and both the pedestrian and the driver have to be vigilant.
“It’s easy to assume, ‘Ok, I have the signal, I can cross safely,'” Neidhardt explains, “But what ends up happening is you have to check to see if someone else might be breaking the law or isn’t paying attention.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as the end of Daylight Saving Time approaches and the nights get longer, the risks for pedestrians increase. From September to February, over 30% of pedestrian fatalities occur between 6 p.m. and 8:59 p.m.
The NHTSA offers the following safety reminders for walking:
- Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available. If one isn’t available, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
- Keep alert at all times; don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road.
- Whenever possible, cross streets at crosswalks or intersections, where drivers expect pedestrians, and look for cars in all directions, including those turning. If neither are available, locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross safely and watch for traffic as you cross.
- Be visible at all times. Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night. Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach to make sure you are seen.
- Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways, or backing up in parking lots.
The NHTSA offers these tips for drivers:
- Look out for pedestrians everywhere, at all times. Use extra caution when driving in hard-to-see conditions, such as nighttime or bad weather.
- Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk. And, never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. There may be people crossing that you can’t see.
- Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, and stop well back from the crosswalk to give other vehicles an opportunity to see and stop for the crossing pedestrians.
- Follow the speed limit, especially around people on the street. Follow slower speed limits in school zones and in neighborhoods where children are present.
- Be extra cautious when backing up—pedestrians can move into your path.