Pedestrian Safety is a Two-Way Street
As a recent college grad, I am no stranger to the chaos that ensues on the streets and crosswalks surrounding a busy campus or metropolitan area. Drivers are speeding to reach their destination on time, abruptly stopping to find parking, and screeching through yellow lights to make it across before the light turns red. Pedestrians are ambling along with their headphones blasting, traveling in mobs of people with cellphones inches from their faces as they walk blindly through intersections with no indication of the harried traffic surrounding them.
Pedestrian safety should always be a priority; especially while traveling through busy cities and areas with a high volume of foot traffic. Sadly, studies show that pedestrian fatalities in Wisconsin range between 50 to 65 deaths per year. Within four years of college, I had seen at least 8 traffic accidents, 2 bikers and multiple pedestrians get hit by cars near campus—you may have had similar and equally as jolting experiences charred into your memory. So why can’t everyone learn?
With the overwhelming proliferation of technology everywhere around us, it often feels as though we need to be “always connected”. As a result, distracted driving has become even more prevalent, and dangerous, as drivers and pedestrians have their eyes on their cellphones and other connected devices instead of on the roadways.
It is important to remember that both drivers and pedestrians are responsible for paying attention to their surroundings and being cautious as they travel from one place to the next. Never assume that a car or pedestrians see you. Stay alert to your surroundings and traffic signals, and slow down while passing through intersections—even if you think you have the right-away. 26% of pedestrian crashes occur while crossing the street mid-block; so be sure to always use the crosswalk when crossing the street.
Next time you glance at your phone while operating a vehicle or while walking across a street, ask yourself: Is answering that text worth risking a life?
For more information on pedestrian safety, visit witrafficsafety.org and learn how to do your part in upholding Wisconsin’s ZERO VISION: Any preventable traffic death is one too many.