As drivers, we aren't always aware of our surroundings. As pedestrians, we assume that drivers will see us and stop. Whether you choose to travel by automobile or by foot or bicycle, we must all commit to making our roadways safer for all users.
Each year in the United States, about 85,000 pedestrians are injured and nearly 5,000 killed. Most accidents are avoidable. Below are helpful tips for drivers and for pedestrians.
- Walk on sidewalks. If sidewalks are not available, walk on the edge of the road or on the left shoulder of the road, facing the traffic flow. Use pedestrian bridges when they are available.
- Cross at marked crosswalks or intersections. Pedestrians are most often hit by cars when they cross the road at places other than intersections.
- Look left, right, and left for traffic. Stop at the curb and look left, right, and left again for traffic. Stopping at the curb signals drivers that you intend to cross. Always obey traffic signals.
- See and be seen. Drivers need to see you to avoid you.
- Stay out of the driver's blind spot.
- Make eye contact with drivers when crossing busy streets.
- Wear bright colors or reflective clothing if you are walking near traffic at night.
- Carry a flashlight when walking in the dark.
- Do not let kids play near traffic or cross the street by themselves.
- In bad weather, take care that your umbrella or raincoat does not prevent approaching vehicles from seeing you.
- Watch your kids. Small children should not cross streets by themselves or be allowed to play or walk near traffic. Kids cannot accurately judge vehicle distances and speeds and may make unpredictable movements.
- Drinking and walking? Alcohol can impair the judgment and motor skills of pedestrians just as it does for drivers. Don't take alcohol risks with walking, just as you would not with driving. Take the bus, take a cab, or have a friend drive you home. Beware of the effects of prescription and non-prescription medications and drugs, too.
- Obey traffic signals. At intersections where traffic is controlled by signals or a traffic officer, pedestrians must obey the signal and not cross against the stop signal unless specifically directed to go by a traffic officer.
- You can encounter pedestrians anytime and anywhere - even in places where they are not supposed to be found.
- Pedestrians can be very hard to see - especially in bad weather or at night. You must keep a lookout and slow down if you can't see clearly.
- When entering a crosswalk area, drive slowly and be prepared to stop.
- Stop for pedestrians who are in a crosswalk, even if it is not marked. When you stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, stop well back so that drivers in the other lanes can also see the pedestrian in time to stop.
- Do not overtake and pass other vehicles stopped for pedestrians.
- When you are turning, you often will have to wait for a "gap" in traffic. Beware that while you are watching for that "gap," pedestrians may have moved into your intended path.
- Be especially attentive around schools and in neighborhoods where children are active.
When you’re biking Spartanburg, be sure to…
- Act like a car! While not every rider feels comfortable on the road at first, a bicycle is a vehicle on the road and traveling with traffic, as a car, is safest.
- Ride on the road, in the same direction as traffic, in the far right travel lane, leaving 2 to 3 feet between you and the edge of the pavement or curb.
- Follow all traffic signs, signals, and rules when at an intersection. Ride in the right-most lane traveling in your direction (if you plan to go straight, do not stay in a right-turn only lane, carefully move into the lane that will allow you to go straight as you approach the intersection). When turning left at an intersection, use the left travel lane or left-only turn lane, when provided.
- Stay to the right if riding on a trail or shared-use path. Courteously pass walkers, joggers, or other bicyclists by moving to the left of them and saying “On your left” as you approach.
- Always, always, always wear a helmet and ensure that any children with you do too. The helmet should fit tightly on your head and under your chin to fully protect you. If you aren’t sure about the fit, ask a bike store professional to show you how.
- Wear bright clothing, reflective vests, and use bike reflectors to make sure drivers can easily see you.
- Watch for debris and hazards in your path, even if you’re riding in a marked bike lane. Drainage grates, uneven asphalt, and tire and metal scraps can be difficult to bike through or around. Remember that drivers will not notice these things as a hazard and so will not be expecting you to react. Look ahead and plan for obstacles to avoid making unexpected, sporadic movements.
- Use hand signals every time you turn or change lanes. It is extremely important to communicate clearly with drivers, so that they know what to expect and can determine how best to respond.