We all learned the same thing as kids: look both ways before crossing the street. But now, as adults, we need to be just as cautious. So as you teach your kids about the rules of being a pedestrian, take the opportunity to refine your own habits as well! Start with these seven ways to be a better pedestrian.
1. Be predictable. Cars, bicyclists, and even other pedestrians need to be able to predict your direction and movement so they can react accordingly and keep out of harm’s way. Follow the rules of the road and obey all signs and signals. Fight the temptation to jaywalk and use the crosswalk instead, where motorists expect to find pedestrians.
2. If possible, always use a sidewalk. If there isn’t one, walk facing traffic and put as much distance between yourself and vehicles as possible. Also be sure to keep an eye on driveways, where cars that are backing up may not be able to see you.
3. Keep your eyes up – not down on your smartphone. In the age of technology, this hazard has begun to occupy our sidewalks and roadways. But this defies one of the most important pedestrian rules: be aware of your surroundings! Take your eyes off the screen and focus on the things around you. It’s just as important for you to be aware of others as it is for others to be aware of you.
4. Be visible to drivers. Whether you’re walking during the day or night, dress in bright colors or invest in retro-reflective material that makes you stand out.
5. Keep the volume down. Listening to loud music through headphones might prevent you from hearing bicycle bells, car horns, or warnings from other walkers and runners.
6. Don’t walk and talk. Talking on the phone while walking can be very distracting, making you miss important cues in your surroundings.
7. Be honest with yourself about your pedestrian behavior. As we get older, we tend to consider ourselves “masters of the sidewalk,” immune to the common mistakes of younger pedestrians. But we can all do more to improve our habits as pedestrians to ensure that we avoid accidents and get from Point A to Point B as safely as possible.
Be sure to practice the tips above and check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for more information.