Tens of thousands of people are killed on South African roads every year, of which more than 40% of these fatalities are pedestrians. Just as drivers must obey the rules of the road, pedestrians have a responsibility to keep themselves safe too. A common mistake that pedestrians make is thinking that drivers will see them and stop for them. And while drivers should give pedestrians right of way, the pedestrian is always at greater risk of serious injury than a driver.
Here are some tips to keep safe while on foot:
Always walk on a pavement. If there is no pavement then walk as far as possible to the side of the road facing oncoming traffic. This gives you time to move to safety should a vehicle be driving recklessly.
Share pavement space. Do not block the pavement chatting to friends or shopping. If other pedestrians have to step around you into the street a vehicle can hit them.
Always look before you cross a street. Look right, left and right again for oncoming traffic. When you cross, walk briskly but don’t run. Cross at formal crossings or robots and keep between the solid white lines. Watch for moving vehicles.
When at the robot. Do not cross when the light is red or orange. Even if the light is green, still check that it is safe to cross. When the red man appears while you are in the middle of the road, continue crossing; but when you are still on the pavement, do not cross at all.
Never cross behind a vehicle, always walk in front of cars so that the driver can see you. Don’t make sudden movements and make eye contact with the driver to make sure you’ve been seen.
Find a safe place to cross: If there is no formal place to cross, look for a straight stretch of road away from sharp bends or objects that block your view such as bushes, hills, slopes or rises. When you cross, you must be able to see clearly in both directions. If you can’t see vehicles approaching, the drivers can’t see you either.
Pedestrian bridges are the safest way to cross a road, even if it means you have to walk further. No pedestrian is allowed on a freeway.
Don’t cross a road diagonally. A straight line is the shortest route and gets you to safety faster.
Wear white or light coloured clothing at night to help drivers see you in the dark. If you don’t happen to be wearing something pale in colour, then carry something in your hand. It can be as simple as holding a white plastic shopping bag that will attract the driver’s attention to your presence.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a vehicle while walking on the road, talk to the personal injury specialists at Adendorff Attorneys to find out if you can claim. Consultations are free.