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Walk This Way! Taking Steps for Pedestrian Safety

Walking is good for your health, and it's good for the environment too. But before you head out on foot for a stroll, power walk, or errand, there are important safety tips to remember.

What's the problem?

Pedestrians—people who travel by foot, wheelchair, stroller, or similar means—are among the most vulnerable users of the road.

In the next 24 hours, on average, more than 460 people will be treated in an emergency department for traffic-related pedestrian injuries.1 In the next 2 hours, on average, one pedestrian will die from injuries in a traffic crash.2

More than 4,200 pedestrians were killed in traffic deaths in 2010, and another 70,000 were injured.2 With numbers like these, it's critical that you understand the risks and learn how to stay safe.

Who's at risk?

Pedestrians of all ages are at risk of injury or death from traffic crashes, but some people are at higher risk.

  • Male pedestrians are more likely to die or be injured in a motor vehicle crash than females.2
  • Teen and young adult (ages 15-29 years) pedestrians are more likely to be treated in emergency departments for crash-related injuries compared to any other age group.1
  • The rate of pedestrian death generally increases with age.2
  • In 2010, 33% of all pedestrians killed in traffic crashes were legally drunk, with a blood alcohol concentration of greater than or equal to 0.08 grams per deciliter.2

As pedestrians, children are at even greater risk of injury or death from traffic crashes due to their small size, inability to judge distances and speeds, and lack of experience with traffic rules.

  • Nearly one in four traffic deaths among children ages 14 and under are pedestrian deaths.1

Take Steps for Safety

Photo: Three girls walkingWhenever you're walking, keep these tips 2 in mind:

  • Cross the street at a designated crosswalk.
  • Be careful at intersections where drivers may fail to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians while turning onto another street.
  • Increase your visibility at night by carrying a flashlight and wearing retro-reflective clothing.
  • It's safest to walk on a sidewalk, but if you must walk in the street, walk facing traffic.

Special Safety Tips for Children

It's especially important to watch out for children's safety when they're walking near traffic.

The following resources offer tips on how to encourage children to walk safely—a critical step in preventing child pedestrian injuries:

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Guide Web site
This Web site gives information about how to start a SRTS program, an opportunity to make walking and bicycling to school safer for children and to increase the number of children who choose to walk and bicycle.

SafeKids Worldwide: Pedestrian SafetyTips
SafeKids offers simple safety tips on child pedestrian safety, and other important topics.

More Information

CDC Resources

Other Resources

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. [cited 2011 May 25]. Available from URL: www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars
  2. Department of Transportation (US), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Traffic Safety Facts 2010: Pedestrians. Washington (DC): NHTSA; 2012 [cited 2013 April 11]. Available from URL: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811625.PDF [PDF - 1.20MB]
 

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  • Page last updated: April 29, 2013
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