In the realm of highway safety, there’s been much news lately about the hazards of texting and talking on cell phones, plus the usual warnings about speeding, drinking and even tiredness.
However, misuse of the roads by non-drivers gets less attention. Yet more than 4,000 pedestrians are killed each year in highway accidents, and some 70,000 are injured. More than 600 bicyclist die in collisions with cars, and some 38,000 are injured in accidents.
Many of those mishaps could have been avoided. Yet how many times have you seen a runner or a dog-walker in the dark, wearing dark clothing and nothing reflective?
How often have you seen pedestrians walking or running on the wrong side of the road?
How often have you seen a bicyclist blow through a red light or stop sign?
Following a few basic rules of the road and safety measures could greatly increase your chances of avoiding injury as a pedestrian or cyclist:
- Walk or run on the side of the road facing traffic. This lets you see an approaching vehicle that may be too close to the edge of the road.
- Keep as far to the edge as possible, and don’t walk or run two-by-two and expect cars to swerve around you.
- Even in daylight, wear bright clothing.
- In the dark, highly reflectorized jackets or vests are essential safety measures for walkers and runners, and high-powered LED headlamps not only help you to see ahead but make you seen hundreds of feet away.
- Bicyclists should ride with the traffic, and as far to the right as possible.
- Two-by-two cycling on trafficked roads is hazardous and illegal if it impedes traffic.
- Bicyclists must obey the same traffic controls as cars: lights, stop signs, one-way streets, etc. Many cyclists are killed or injured yearly ignoring traffic controls.
- Cyclists of all ages should always wear a helmet. How often have you seen a family of bicyclists, with the kids helmeted and one or both parents bare-headed? Not only is that a poor example for the children, it’s an unnecessary risk for their parents.
Most of us are using the roads for exercise, aimed at staying healthy. Using those roads safely is part of staying healthy.