Be Sure Safety is Always Within Walking Distance

DeAnn Crane

As the temperatures rise, the sun climbs and the days grow longer, I’m finding myself doing more window-shopping. I’m getting outside more and this leads me to the topic of walking. I’m walking in neighborhoods, on downtown streets and, yes, even on the country roads near where I live.

I am reminded that every trip starts and ends for all of us as pedestrians, even trips we make while on the job. We should prioritize pedestrian safety in much the same way we do road safety.

We know distracted walking incidents are on the rise. People take their cellphones with them everywhere and often get “lost” in a text or phone conversation while walking. Do they also carry the core values of safety in their hearts? It’s important to be alert and take precautions to stay safe while walking.

Whatever type of roadway you find yourself on, don’t be a distracted walker. You take your eyes and ears off the road when distracted by devices. When walking, unplug from your phone or other electronics so you won’t be tempted to look at them. Instead, focus on cleansing your mind and your spirit. This time is your time.

Don’t wear earbuds. Keep your eyes up and your phone down. The following tips will help you to stay alert and be seen as a pedestrian:

  • Always use sidewalks and crosswalks if available. This is where drivers expect pedestrians to be, not darting out between parked cars.
  • Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with motorists before crossing the street and keep scanning for traffic.  If traffic is not stopped, then don’t walk and never jaywalk.
  • What if there is no sidewalk, you ask? Walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
  • Obey all traffic signs and signals. Look both ways before crossing.
  • Be visible to drivers. Wear bright and/or reflective clothing, especially at night. Also, try to stay in well-lit areas and/or use a flashlight.
  • Avoid alcohol and other drugs when walking. They can impair your judgement and impact your coordination.

All roadway users, including drivers and pedestrians, should strive to be courteous, patient and display responsible road safety behaviors. As employers, we can set a good example. Safety is for on the job and it’s for off the job. Take the time to talk about pedestrian safety in the workplace.

Let’s work together to learn, encourage and demonstrate these safety behaviors for all on the roadway.

– DeAnn Crane is a program manager with the National Safety Council