Tips for Pedestrian Safety in Long Island

May 13, 2020

pedestrian safety tips while walking in the crosswalk.

Pedestrian Safety Winner from Walk Safe LI on Vimeo.

Drivers are no longer the only distracted people on the road - walkers that are multitasking or unaware of their surroundings are at a significantly higher risk of getting in an accident. According to Injury Facts, pedestrian deaths in traffic accidents have been on the rise for years. In 2018, 6,283 pedestrian deaths accounted for 17.2% of all traffic deaths that year.

The Safety Cost of Not Paying Attention

What’s causing this increase in pedestrian fatalities? Statistics have been increasing each year with the rise of cell phone usage at the same time as walking. Texting and walking or talking on the phone while on a walk can severely limit a person’s ability to safely get to their destination. In fact, 60% of individuals veer off course when attempting to text and walk at the same time.

Despite what many people might assume, it’s not just young people who are getting into accidents when distracted by their phones. Folks of all ages are multitasking on phones when on a walk, using their devices to listen to music, tune in to a podcast or audio book, search the web or scroll through social media. We must all do a better job as pedestrians to stay safe on the road and take precautions while walking.

Pedestrian Laws You Need to Know

Abide by the Crosswalk

A lit up or flashing red hand means don’t walk. Stop when you approach a crosswalk that has this symbol, even if you don’t see cars immediately approaching. It’s best to be safe and follow the rules of the road.

An illuminated person means safe to walk. Even though this symbol gives you permission to walk, pedestrians should still proceed with caution as they cross the street. Accidents could still happen with distracted drivers, so it’s best to be safe in the crosswalk.

Know Whether the Driver or the Pedestrian Has the Right-of-Way

Scenario 1: A Car is Backing Out of a Driveway
The pedestrian on the sidewalk will have priority over the car coming out of a driveway. The vehicle must yield since the individual is in a designated, safe walking area. However, the person walking should wait to make sure the driver sees them before proceeding.

Scenario 2: Walkers Are Trying to Cross The Street
If the pedestrian is crossing the road outside of a marked crosswalk, they should pause for the car to pass before entering the street, and when people are at a crosswalk, they should still practice caution. Walkers crossing a street diagonally or J-walking never have the right-of-way and could potentially risk getting a fine.

Your Pedestrian Safety Checklist

At Long Island Health Collaborative, we’re here to help our community live their healthiest, safest lives, which includes making sure everyone is safe when they’re out and about. Besides putting the phone away when exercising and walking, there are many precautions people can follow to ensure their safety on the road.

  • Always walk on the sidewalk if there’s one available. If there is no sidewalk, pedestrians must walk on the left side of the street, facing oncoming traffic. Never take the risk of having your back to traffic.
  • Rethink wearing headphones. Even if listening to your favorite workout playlist can get you pumped up on a walk or jog, it can also interfere with your awareness of your surroundings. If you do listen to music or a podcast, try keeping the volume low.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street. Even when cars are supposed to yield to people, it’s best to play it safe by following this rule you’ve been told since you were a kid.
  • Check behind you before you pass when you’re walking, running or riding a bike on a busy path. There could be someone faster behind you trying to pass, and checking your surroundings could prevent a collision.
  • Wear bright or reflective clothing, especially if you are exercising at night. The proper gear will alert cars, cyclists and other walkers of your presence.

Long Island Health Collaborative Supports Safe Walking Habits

Long Island Health Collaborative is one of seven grant partners who make up the Walk Safe Long Island initiative. Our goal is to raise awareness and educate our communities about all types of health and safety concerns. We encourage all Long Island residents to respect basic pedestrian safety tips while walking and staying active. Together we can prevent pedestrian accidents and keep local Long Island residents healthy.

For more information on walking safety, visit New York’s Pedestrian Safety website. You can also reach out to the New York Coalition for Traffic Safety to host a pedestrian and bicycle safety program in your community.