The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that pedestrians are injured once every eight minutes and killed, on average, once every two hours in traffic-related incidents. Whether you travel alone or push your child in a stroller, traveling by foot carries potential risk. Even if you are careful and abide by traffic signals, you still need to be a defensive pedestrian and aware of your surroundings.
Walking Safety Tips
Follow these safety tips when walking on highly-trafficked streets or when crossing busy intersections:
Always obey traffic signals and cross the street at designated crosswalks.
Don’t assume motorists will stop for you — they don’t always yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. Look left, right, then left again before crossing busy streets.
Avoid highly-trafficked streets and walk on sidewalks. However, if you need to walk on the street, walk facing traffic.
Make sure you are visible to drivers. Do not stand in front of buses, parked cars, bushes or hedges, and other large obstacles.
Be aware of your surroundings – do not talk or text on your mobile phone, or wear headphones while crossing the street.
When walking at night, wear reflective clothing and carry a flashlight to increase your visibility.
When walking through parking lots or near parked vehicles, be aware of the vehicle’s back-up lights and engine noise. Drivers sometimes can’t judge distance or can’t see behind them when backing out of a space.
Don’t walk long distances after drinking alcohol. The influence of alcohol can impair your judgment and put you at greater risk for being struck by a vehicle.
Minnesota Traffic Safety Laws
Minnesota’s Crosswalk Law states that, if traffic control signals are not in operation, a motorist must stop for a pedestrian crossing within a marked crosswalk (or at an intersection with no marked crosswalk). A vehicle that is stopped at a crosswalk can proceed only after the pedestrian has completely crossed the lane in front of their stopped vehicle. This is especially important to adhere to when groups of school age children are crossing, or when driving past crossing guards when they are holding official signs in the stop position.
How to Keep Child Pedestrians Safe
According to Safe Kids USA, children under 10 years old don’t have the maturity level to correctly gauge road dangers, which puts them at greater risk for injury. They are unable to judge distances and car speeds.
Sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots are hazardous for young pedestrians, especially for children under three years old. When walking with children, make sure to supervise them at all times and hold their hands when crossing busy streets. Make sure infants and toddlers are securely strapped into strollers.
Walking to School
When older kids walk to school, remind them to walk in groups and not to take short cuts on isolated paths or streets – stick to designated walking routes/sidewalks on main roads. Don’t allow young children to walk to school alone. Walk your child to and from school or have a responsible, trusted adult/friend walk with them.