Walking near traffic exposes you to risks of injury, especially if you experience distraction. Even if you pay careful attention, an inattentive driver could make a dramatic movement and strike you.
Knowing how to watch for hazards and how to behave in order to mitigate them can help you stay safer. Developing responsible habits can also help you protect yourself against some common pedestrian dangers.
Plan your route
Depending on where you walk, you may not have access to sidewalks or crosswalks for a portion or all of your commute. While it is best to avoid these areas completely, planning your route can at least help you identify the safest path to your destination. According to the United States Department of Transportation, if you cannot access a sidewalk, always walk with the flow of traffic and as far from vehicles as possible.
If you need to cross a street that does not have a crosswalk, find a well-lit area and wait until you have ample space to cross. Use caution and keep your head up the entire time. Wear brightly colored clothing to improve your visibility so motorists can see you better.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a pedestrian is to fall victim to distraction. Minimize things that could divert your attention from walking. Refrain from using headphones to listen to loud music or podcasts. Avoid talking on the phone or handling personal needs. Invest in a sturdy bag or backpack for your belongings so you can have full use of your arms and hands.
Constantly scan the area around you to identify potential hazards. Even if you have the right-of-way, make eye contact with motorists to verify their movement prior to crossing any streets. Your vigilance in following traffic laws and staying alert can help you recognize danger and react with control.