Pedestrians have the right to travel our roadways as everyone else, but are also one of our most vulnerable when it comes to traffic fatalities because of the lack of protection during a collision. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sadly reports there are over 5,000 pedestrian fatalities each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the three pedestrian groups most at-risk for accidents are seniors 65 years and older, children ages 5-9, and people under the influence of alcohol.
Drivers and pedestrians alike share the responsibility of keeping themselves and others on the road safe. Here are some safety tips for pedestrians:
• Make sure you’re visible to drivers at all times. This is especially important at night, in low-light conditions such as dusk or dawn or in inclement weather. National statistics show that one-third of all pedestrian fatalities occur between 8 p.m. and 11:59 p.m.
• Wear lightly-colored or reflective clothing at night and brightly-colored clothing during the day.
• When crossing the street, always use a marked crosswalk whenever possible and stay in well-lit areas.
• Even when you have the pedestrian walk signal and the right-of-way to use the crosswalk, always look both ways before you cross the street. Look left, right and left again to make sure no cars are coming or turning into the crosswalk.
• Attempt to make eye contact with the stopped drivers so the motorist acknowledges you while crossing.
• Pay full attention to your surroundings by putting down or away all phones, headphones and other electronic devices when crossing the street. A new Honolulu law taking effect in October makes it illegal to look at your smartphone while using the crosswalk. It is particularly important to reinforce this message with teenagers.
Watch the “red hand” signal
Flashing “DON’T WALK” or red hand signals mean to use caution while crossing the street:
• If you are already in the street when the red signal begins flashing, finish crossing the street.
• If you have not started crossing the street, stay on the curb. Do not attempt to run across the street when the red hand is already flashing.