Though some clinging vestiges of winter remain, springtime is officially upon us now. Everywhere you look around Albany, you'll see signs of new life, with birds beginning to nest again, flowers starting to sprout and grass steadfastly starting to get greener. After a brutal winter like those we endure annually, people tend to flock outside once the weather warms.
Unfortunately, as the throngs head outside en masse to enjoy the warmer weather, something else tends to happen: pedestrian and bicyclist accidents. The New York State Department of Health reports that an average of 312 New York pedestrians are killed each year and thousands more are injured. Taking safety precautions, both as a pedestrian/bicyclist and as a driver, however, can go a long way toward keeping everyone safe to enjoy the weather another day.
If you're a pedestrian, remember this...
The number one issue facing pedestrians is visibility. It can be difficult to make yourself stand out, particularly when you are sharing the road with vehicles, but it's important to use every tool in your pedestrian arsenal where safety is concerned. This means you should:
- Wear bright colors or a reflective vest when walking in an area without a sidewalk; this will help ensure that drivers are able to spot you
- Take extra caution in areas where pedestrians and vehicles often cross, including parking lot entrances/exits, school zones, residential areas (where there are lots of driveways), intersections and busy retail areas
- Use properly marked crosswalks whenever possible; even if there isn't a crosswalk, avoid the temptation to cross in the middle of the street, because you are much less visible that way
- Follow the rules of the road (look both ways before crossing, walk against the flow of traffic when you don't have a sidewalk available, etc.)
- Stay alert and aware when crossing into traffic; don't dawdle in the street because you are distracted by your phone or mp3 player
When driving, remember this...
As a driver, you are obviously at a huge advantage over a pedestrian. Your vehicle can inflict a massive amount of damage, even if you are obeying posted speed limits. When a vehicle strikes a pedestrian, the pedestrian always loses. That is why you need to drive responsibly and carefully when around pedestrians. This includes:
- Putting away your phone; distracted drivers are much more likely to be involved in an auto or pedestrian accident that could result in serious injuries or death
- Paying attention to the road ahead, particularly at intersections and when approaching crosswalks and school zones
- Obeying speed limits and traffic signals; if there is a sign telling you not to turn on red, it's there for a reason, as are speed limits and stop signs
- Looking for pedestrians before pulling out of a driveway, parking lot or cross-street, or when turning
Even the most conscientious pedestrian could be hurt due to the inattention of a driver or the poor conditions of a city street plan. If you are hurt in a pedestrian accident, you have legal rights. Speak with a local personal injury attorney to learn more.