Walk the Walk: Obey Pedestrian Safety Laws

In order to be a defensive driver, you know that you need to look out for other drivers. But did you know that you need to look out for pedestrians, too? Pedestrian fatalities accounted for 12 percent of all deaths related to motor vehicle crashes in 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Whoa. That means more than 4,000 pedestrians were killed nationally that year. Not okay. It’s important for you to know about pedestrian safety so that we can change this staggering statistic for the better. Here’s some tips for watching out for those who walk.

Walk a Fine Line

Whether you’re operating a motor vehicle or walking, you must follow pedestrian signals. For drivers, pedestrian crossing signs are just like any other traffic signal head. You must stop when you’re supposed to stop and wait to go until you’re supposed to go. For pedestrians, too, these signs aren’t simply a suggestion — they’re the law! In fact, you can get a ticket for jaywalking, or crossing the street without following pedestrian signals or crosswalk markings. Think it’s no big deal to jaywalk? Getting into a pedestrian accident isn’t so far fetched. In 2012, 59,000 pedestrians were injured across the United States. To put it into perspective, that’s nearly 10,000 more people than there are living in the capital of Pennsylvania!

The Beatles know how to use a crosswalk.
The Beatles know how to use a crosswalk.

Have a Safe Trip

There are many traffic safety elements in place to help pedestrians cross the road. Familiarize yourself with them so that you can help prevent pedestrian fatalities.

  • Traffic Calming Devices — Physical designs in the road that help improve traffic safety for pedestrians, like a speed bump, pedestrian bridge or island in the middle of the street
  • Detectable Warnings — Raised or grooved surfaces on curb ramps that tell the visually impaired when they are approaching a crosswalk or drop-off
  • Uniform Traffic Control Devices — The U.S. Department of Transportation requires that pedestrian traffic signals across the country adhere to the same standards. Here are the signs that you should look out for and what they mean:
Pedestrian Push Button (DOT.gov)
Pedestrian Push Button (DOT.gov)
Pedestrian Crossing (DOT.gov)
Pedestrian Crossing (DOT.gov)
Yield to Pedestrians (DOT.gov)
Yield to Pedestrians (DOT.gov)
Handicap Crossing (DOT.gov)
Handicap Crossing (DOT.gov)

Now that you know about pedestrian safety, looking out for people crossing the road should be a cakewalk!