Here in Nashville Spring is springing and this means that more Pedestrians will be sharing the road with cars and trucks. For obvious reasons pedestrians are among the most vulnerable users of the road. Walking is an excellent way to enhance your health and protect the environment. We all know that distracted driving is dangerous and causes many deaths and serious injuries every year. But seldom do we think of the dangers of distracted walking.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), in the next 24 hours based on 2014 numbers, 430 people will be treated in an emergency department for traffic-related pedestrian injury & death. In the next 2 hours, on average, one pedestrian will die from injuries in a traffic crash.
A total of 4,735 pedestrians were killed in traffic deaths in 2013, and more than 156,000 were treated in emergency departments for nonfatal injuries. With numbers like these, it’s critical to understand the risks and learn how to stay safe.
Who Are These Pedestrians?
The CDC numbers show that age is no arbiter of pedestrian injury & death. For some reason that I have been unable to pin down, male pedestrians are more likely to die or be injured than are females. Teens and young adult (15-29) pedestrians more often find themselves treated for crash related injuries in emergency rooms.
Another interesting but frightening fact is that 34% of all pedestrians killed in traffic accidents had a blood alcohol level greater than the legal limit. And then of course, we have children. Because of their size they are less visible to drivers. Their skills, judging distance, attention span and lack of experience with the rules of the road make them easy targets.
Pedestrian Rules to Live By
In Tennessee as in most jurisdictions pedestrians have the right of way over vehicles, but NEVER, I repeat, NEVER rely on your having the right of way. A 3000 pound car or truck and the human body is never a good match. The body will always lose. So, how can a pedestrian safely navigate the Nashville streets?
Yesterday I read and must see article on this topic by Tavia Smith in the online newsletter “My Southern Health”. Her theme is the Ten Commandments for safe walking and driving to prevent death or serious injuries. Quoting Oscar Guillamondegui, M.D., associate professor of Surgery and medical director of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Trauma Intensive Care Unit. “The most important tip for both drivers and pedestrians is vigilance,” Guillamondegui said. “Be ever aware of where one is driving and playing. If driving through a neighborhood, respect the speed limits and keep an eye out for children playing in the area. For pedestrians, always look both ways before crossing the street. For cyclists and joggers, utilize protective high-visibility clothing and flashing lights to make your presence known to traffic, and remain vigilant in high-traffic areas.”
Relying on suggestions from the NashVitality Program, Ms. Smith proffers a list of important suggestions:
Avoid distractions: Drivers who are texting, talking on the phone or eating are taking attention away from the road. Pedestrians who are texting, talking on the phone, or listening to loud music through earbuds are not as aware of surroundings.
Obey all traffic signals: Pedestrians, cyclists and motorists are all responsible for obeying laws and keeping themselves safe.
Beware the twilight zone: Visibility is much reduced in the times just before sunup and just after sundown. Drivers should be extra cautious, and pedestrians should wear light or reflective clothing.
Know the rules for intersections and crosswalks: Pedestrians should always cross the street at a crosswalk or an intersection. Drivers should always stop before crosswalk markings and remember that pedestrians have the right of way at intersections.
Look both ways: Drivers, look both ways before pulling into an intersection. Pedestrians, look both ways before crossing the street just like your parents taught you.
Always walk against traffic if no sidewalk is available: And walk to the side of the street. Avoid walking out in the street, even if it looks as though no vehicles are around.
Remember that bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists: A driver should maintain at least three feet between his or her vehicle and a bicycle. By law, you cannot pass a cyclist unless you have three feet of space between you and the cyclist. Wait until there is a safe opportunity to pass.
Open doors with care: Look for pedestrians and cyclists when opening your car door. It is the driver’s responsibility should any collision occur.
Caution, children at play: Be especially alert on neighborhood streets and take extra time to look for children at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
Slow down a little: Speeding greatly increases your chance of a crash with a cyclist or pedestrian; and just a 5 mile-per-hour decrease in speed can be the difference between life or death.
I whole-heartedly endorsed her suggestions and I hope that you take them to heart. Take the time to teach them to your children and grandchildren and walk with them on a regular basis. If you have other suggestions I would loved hear from you so please comment in the space below this blog. Have a safe pedestrian experience.
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