Can you “walk the walk”?

Warm weather provides a great opportunity to get outside and go for a walk or a jog. It can be a challenge for pedestrians and motor vehicles to co-exist in high traffic areas, however, and accidents do happen far too regularly; Transport Canada estimates that in 2009, there were 307 pedestrian fatalities. Walkers and joggers who wish to get in some physical activity should be aware of the fact that a bit of caution goes a long way when it comes to dealing with traffic.

Here are a few safety tips for pedestrians to remember when interacting with traffic, fellow pedestrians, or nature in general.

Obey the rules of the road  –  One major problem facing pedestrians and motorists is communication. That’s why the rules of the road are in place: to keep communication between the two consistent. Cross the street at intersections or in pedestrian safety zones. A motorist is more likely to see a pedestrian crossing in a designated area than they are to see that same pedestrian cross the street between two parked cars.

Keep distractions to a minimum  – Keep your eyes on the road when dealing with traffic. Playing around with electronic devices can lead to a lack of attention, which can be the cause of a preventable incident.

Walk against traffic  – When walking along a road with no sidewalks, move in the opposite direction of traffic. You will have a significantly easier time in seeing a motorist coming at you from the front than you would from behind. This precaution will enable you to have a quicker reaction time in case of an emergency.

Never assume  – As mentioned above, there is a reason why the rules of the road are in place. However, at any given moment, someone could break them, whether they are a pedestrian or a motorist. Never walk out in traffic while assuming that a motorist will yield the right of way. Eye contact should be made with the driver and the vehicle should arrive at a full stop before you cross the street.

Make a bright decision  – Nighttime brings more risks to pedestrians, since visibility is greatly reduced once dusk settles in. If you find yourself having to walk in the streets after dark, be sure to wear bright-coloured or reflective clothing so that motorists will be able to see you better.

Constant vigilance  – No matter what the situation may be, keep your eyes moving. Constantly look around to ensure that you have the big picture of what’s going on around you.

Traffic can move so quickly that even a moment of inattention is all it takes for a pleasant walk to devolve into injury or, worse, fatality. Following a few simple safety guidelines can make the difference between an enjoyable exercise and an avoidable tragedy.