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Is there any way to reduce your risk of a pedestrian crash?

Walking to local destinations is almost universally a good choice. Walking is a form of low-impact aerobic exercise that can help keep your heart and your muscles healthy as you age. Choosing to walk instead of driving can also reduce your carbon footprint and the impact you have on the environment.

Unfortunately, walking also increases your personal risk in public roadways. There is risk any time you get behind a car, but your vehicle serves as a form of protection. Your risk as a pedestrian is more significant, because there will be nothing between you and the vehicle.

Many times, crashes between pedestrians and vehicles prove fatal or severely debilitating. They are also commonly caused by inattentive or dangerous drivers. Thankfully, there are certain steps you can take to avoid risk as a pedestrian.

Try to cross in marked crosswalks and comply with street lights

The first and most obvious safety tip is to comply with all local and state laws regarding walking on the public road. You should make every effort to cross at approved crossing areas that have markings on the pavement.

You should also wait for the crossing light unless there is no traffic coming in any direction. Complying with the law helps reduce the risk of accidentally stepping out into the flow of traffic and getting hurt. However, it does not fully undo the potential risk of walking near vehicles.

Stay visible, and focus on the task at hand

One of the most common responses that drivers have after causing a crash with a pedestrian is that they failed to see the pedestrian until it was too late. People in large vehicles tend to be absorbed in their own world. In fact, quite a few might be staring down at their mobile phones instead of at the road.

Crossing at crosswalks is one way to make yourself more visible, since drivers may check for pedestrians more reliably where they expect them. Having brightly colored clothing or hats is another option. If you must walk during the night, dusk or dawn, you should invest either in a headlamp or in reflective clothing.

You should also focus carefully on the road in front of you. No matter how many times you have walked the path, you never know when someone is going to come driving in the wrong direction. In other words, just like you wouldn't text while driving a vehicle for the sake of safety, you should not text or stare down at your phone when you are walking on public roads either.

Engaging in harm reduction practices is a good way to limit the risk of a crash. However, you can't control what people in vehicles do. If you find yourself hurt in a collision with a vehicle where you were a pedestrian, you may have legal rights to hold the driver accountable for your financial losses.

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John McCabe wrote "The Investigation and Analysis of Personal Injury Cases" in the best-selling book Personal Injury Practice in North Carolina. This is the book that other lawyers follow in handling personal injury cases.

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Cary, NC 27511

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