A preliminary report of vehicle-pedestrian fatalities in the first half of 2018 seems to indicate that walking has become more dangerous as smartphone use and the number of larger vehicles has increased. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, California is one of five states that made up 46% of the pedestrian deaths in the U.S. from January to the end of June in 2018.
California had the highest number of fatalities, with 432. However, the population of the state contributes to the amount. When looking at the fatal accidents by rate rather than number, California falls much lower, with 1.09 deaths per 100,000 people. New Mexico had the highest rate, with 2.26 deaths per 100,000 people.
To avoid becoming one of these statistics, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers these tips to pedestrians for safety:
- Use sidewalks and crosswalks when they are available
- When sidewalks are not available, walk on the side of the road facing traffic
- When crosswalks are not available, cross at intersections or at well-lit places with a clear view of traffic
- Stay alert, wear bright colors and make eye contact with drivers whenever possible to ensure visibility
- Avoid being distracted or drunk while on foot
Although pedestrians must follow the rules of the road and be responsible for their own safety, drivers must also take safety precautions when pedestrians are in the area. These include the following:
- Slow down and be ready to stop when entering a crosswalk
- Yield when pedestrians are in crosswalks and stop far enough back that other vehicles can also see the crosswalk
- Never go around a vehicle that is stopped at a crosswalk
- Obey the speed limit, particularly in school zones and neighborhoods
- Never drink and drive or use a cellphone while driving
Drivers should keep in mind that they are also pedestrians at some point and treat people on foot the way they would want to be treated.