CHARLESTON, WV – October is Pedestrian Safety Month, according to the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program. A press release from the GHSP says in 2021 there were 7,388 pedestrians killed in traffic crashes, a 12.5 percent increase from the 6,565 pedestrians’ fatalities in 2020. This is the highest since 1981 when 7,837 pedestrians died in traffic crashes. On average, a pedestrian was killed every 71 minutes and injured every 9 minutes in traffic crashes in 2021.“We rarely are more vulnerable than when walking in urban areas, crossing busy streets, and negotiating traffic. Even rural areas can be dangerous to walk in, as many areas have no sidewalks, crosswalks, or safe spaces for walking. Since we all are pedestrians from time to time, it is important to pay attention to what is going on around us,” the press release said, adding that is why the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) is sharing information on pedestrian safety this month. “As both pedestrians and motorists, we all need to pay more attention to our surroundings. Vehicles are deadly weapons and, when combined with a pedestrian, can be deadly,” said Amy Boggs, Pedestrian/Bicycle Safety Coordinator for the GHSP. “Thirty-six people died on WV’s roadways in 2021, while they were walking. That is 36 too many. Nearly all pedestrian-involved crashes are preventable. It all boils down to all of us paying attention, not being distracted or impaired, and slowing down,” Boggs concluded. Follow these tips to stay safe as a pedestrian:
- Pay attention. That means: Head Up, Phone Down.
- Stay alert. Don’t wear ear buds.
- Whenever possible, walk on the sidewalk; if no sidewalk is available, walk facing traffic.
- Follow the rules of the road, obeying all traffic signs and signals.
- Cross streets at crosswalks.
- If no crosswalk is available and your view is blocked, move to a place where you can see oncoming traffic.
- Look left, right, and left again before crossing the street, making eye contact with drivers of oncoming vehicles to make sure they see you.
- Avoid alcohol and drug impairment.
- Wear bright and/or reflective clothing and use a flashlight at night.
- Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways or backing up in parking lots.
- Children should cross the street with an adult.
Distracted walking incidents are on the rise, and everyone with a cell phone is at risk. We are losing focus on our surroundings and putting our safety at risk. The solution: Stop using phones while walking, and not just in crosswalks and intersections. Over half of distracted walking injuries occur in our own homes, proving that we need to stay aware of our surroundings whether indoors or out. When driving, help keep pedestrians of all ages safe:
- Pay attention. Put your phone down and never drive while distracted.
- Obey all traffic laws, especially posted speed limits in school zones.
- Always watch out for pedestrians and be extra cautious when backing up.
- Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, making eye contact to indicate that you see them.
- Never pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks.
- Do not drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/pedestrian-safety. For more information about the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program, visit highwaysafety.wv.gov, or call 304-926-2509.For more information about pedestrian safety, visit