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Pedestrian safety: how to avoid being a crash victim

Walking is a risk-free activity, right? Not exactly. Being a pedestrian can be downright dangerous, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA reports that in 2015, 5,376 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States. In Alabama, 98 pedestrians died in traffic crashes.

In addition, nearly 129,000 pedestrians nationwide were treated in emergency departments for non-fatal, crash-related injuries in 2015.

Why do motor vehicles hit pedestrians, and what can be done to reduce injuries and fatalities?

Risk factors include time of day and use of alcohol

Here are key findings from the NHTSA report.

  • 72 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred at non-intersections
  • More than half of pedestrian fatalities occur between 6 p.m. and midnight
  • More than two-thirds of the pedestrian fatalities were male 
  • 48 percent of crashes that resulted in pedestrian deaths involved alcohol for the driver or the pedestrian
  • In 19 percent of the fatalities, pedestrians were struck by hit-and-run drivers

Pedestrians over the age of 65 accounted for 19 percent of all pedestrian deaths, the report said. The highest total pedestrian injury rates by age group were ages 20 to 24 and 15 to 19.

How to prevent pedestrian injuries and fatalities 

Here are tips from the NHTSA on how to avoid being involved in a crash involving a pedestrian.

Safety tips for pedestrians:

  • Walk on a sidewalk or path, if available.
  • If no sidewalk or path is available, walk on the shoulder, facing traffic
  • Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by electronic devices
  • Never assume that a driver sees you
  • Be predictable. Cross at crosswalks or intersections when possible
  • Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night
  • Avoid the use of alcohol or drugs

Safety tips for drivers:

  • Always be on the lookout for pedestrians
  • Stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk
  • Do not pass vehicles that are stopped at a crosswalk
  • Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Follow the speed limit and slow down around pedestrians
  • Slow down in areas where children may be present 

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