Rules of the Road - Pedestrian Safety
Every trip—whether by car, rail, bicycle, bus, or air—involves some walking. Unfortunately, since pedestrians are especially vulnerable in collisions with motor vehicles, walking can result in injury or death when safety precautions are not followed. As a result, everyone can benefit from a better understanding of pedestrian safety. Federal, state, and local laws give pedestrians and motorists certain rights and responsibilities to make walking safer and more enjoyable.
- Pedestrians hit by motor vehicles in Ohio from 2005 to 2009: 14,213.
- Pedestrians killed by motor vehicles in Ohio from 2005 to 2009: 478.
- A U.K. study showed that a pedestrian’s chance of dying from a collision is only 5% when the vehicle is traveling at 20 mph, but rises to 45% at 30 mph, and 85% at 40 mph.
Safety Reminders for Drivers:
- Drivers must yield the right of way to pedestrians crossing in marked or unmarked crosswalks (there is technically a crosswalk at every street or road intersection, even if it’s not marked).
- At signals, drivers must yield to pedestrians when the WALK signal is displayed.
- Distracted driving is an increasingly common cause of crashes and poses particular concerns for pedestrians, who are often less visible and more susceptible to injury than other motorists.
Safety Reminders for Pedestrians:
- Pedestrians must cross at intersections or midblock crosswalks.
- Pedestrians must obey WALK/DON’T WALK signals where provided, and otherwise cross with the green light. A flashing DON’T WALK signal indicates that it is too late to begin crossing, but that if already in the crosswalk, you should continue walking to the other side.
- Pedestrian distraction is just as dangerous as driver distraction. Pedestrians should turn off their handheld devices, mp3 players, etc. when crossing the street or walking in busy areas.
- Pedestrians generally should not assume that they are visible to drivers, or that drivers will follow the rules of the road.
- Pedestrians should give drivers plenty of time to stop before entering a crosswalk.
- When a sidewalk is not available, pedestrians should walk facing traffic.
- At night, pedestrians should wear reflective clothing and also consider using flashing lights.
For more information, please see MORPC’s Pedestrian Safety Brochure.