Some of the most dangerous interactions on our roadways are those involving cars and a pedestrian or cyclist.
According to the Washington Post, approximately 700 cyclists are killed in collisions with cars and 45,000 are injured every year. The numbers are even more staggering for a pedestrian. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2013, over 4,000 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents. Collisions sent 150,000 pedestrians to the emergency room for serious non-fatal wounds.
What are the chances of having an accident with a pedestrian?
When there are ten million car accidents every year, what are the chances that you’ll ever even come close to an accident with a pedestrian or a cyclist? While it’s true that it’s very unlikely for this to happen to drivers, it’s the most serious accident that can occur in terms of damages. Pedestrians and cyclists are much more vulnerable than vehicle occupants. Even a collision at speeds as low as 10 MPH can kill a pedestrian. While the chances of a collision are slim, the chances of one being serious are high. Understanding the potential consequences of a collision is important, but what should you do with the information?
Here are three tips on how to safely share the road with pedestrians:
- Look out for children – children ages five to nine are among those most likely to be seriously injured in a collision. This is in no small part due to their lack of understanding of concepts like right-of-way (there’s a reason we teach our kids to “look both ways”). Remember to always look around for children and slow down whenever you see them by the road.
- Slow down for crosswalks– crosswalks are intended to give pedestrians a safe and assured area to cross the road. It is in the hands of drivers to carry it out. When approaching a crosswalk, give the right of way to pedestrians. When making a turn, be extremely cautious of pedestrians crossing. Always look ahead for crosswalks and intersections where pedestrians are likely to be.
- Practice Safe Backing– backing is a common occurrence, but becomes much more dangerous when pedestrians are around. Never back without looking, especially around areas where pedestrians are likely to be, like in neighborhoods or college campuses.
Cyclists, similar to pedestrians, are much more vulnerable to injury than vehicle passengers. However, cyclists are in a unique position. While many states mandate that they ride on roadways rather than sidewalks, they often impede traffic, thus creating dangerous situations where motorists speed around cyclists or fail to give them adequate room.
Follow these three tips to safely navigate situations involving cyclists:
- Respect cyclists’ right of way – Before making a left or right turn, look carefully for cyclists just like you would for pedestrians. If you’re turning right and a cyclist traveling on the right side of you is going to keep straight, the cyclist has the right of way. Most importantly, never enter the bike lane, even to park or idle. They count on it as a safe zone.
- Beware of intersections – A cyclist may be behind and to the right of a car at an intersection without the driver realizing; if the driver is making a right-hand turn and the rider is going straight, there is a serious risk of a collision on the right side. Cyclists can hide in your blind spot. It’s critical remember to always Look Around at intersections using the Rock and Roll Technique and to communicate your intent to turn.
- Be Patient – It’s frustrating to drive behind a cyclist, but remain patient when attempting to pass them. Do not pass when approaching a curve in the road or when there is any nearby oncoming traffic. Moreover, it is vital to “Leave Room” when you pass a cyclist; it’s hard to imagine a worse scenario than having to squeeze between an oncoming car and a rider by the right shoulder.