We all know how important it is to be safe behind the wheel, but what about on foot or 2 wheels? As a bicyclist or pedestrian, you can take certain steps to keep yourself safe.
General Tips and Tricks
When you are around cars, stay attentive and focus on the task at hand. Whether you are driving, riding in the bike lane, or crossing the street, your attention will help reduce the risk of accidents.
If you have been drinking, get a ride home. You cannot operate any kind of vehicle, including bicycles, while under the influence, and if you have to walk, you should ask a sober companion to accompany you. Alcohol impairs your judgment and coordination, so you should not risk crossing in front of a car or stumbling into the street.
Tips for Pedestrians
Even if you drive all day, the second you get out of your car, you become a pedestrian. Most of us spend some time as a pedestrian most days, and tragically, more than 6,000 pedestrians are killed in traffic accidents every year.
When you’re behind the wheel, keep an eye out for pedestrians, and drive cautiously.
When you’re a pedestrian, follow these tips to help prevent accidents:
- Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals
- Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available
- If no sidewalk is available, walk facing traffic and as far to the side of the road as possible
- Keep your phone (and other distractions) in your pocket
- Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking
- Be predictable and cross at intersections and crosswalks whenever possible
- Do not cross in between cars
- Look both ways before crossing
- Be aware of cars turning left or right, entering or exiting driveways, or backing up in parking lots
- Keep an eye out for traffic as you cross
- Cross in well-lit areas where you can see traffic and cars expect you
- Never enter traffic if you do not have enough time to cross
- Assume drivers cannot see you
- Make eye contact with drivers whenever possible to make sure you are seen
- Stay visible: wear bright-colored clothing during the day and reflective materials at night
Many of these tips feel like common sense, which is another key to being safe as a pedestrian. If you feel like a car isn’t going to stop, wait to cross – even if you have the right of way. No matter whose fault a car-pedestrian accident is, pedestrians are more vulnerable to injuries.
Tips for Bicyclists
Bicyclists are considered vehicles when they are on the road and, as such, have the same rights and responsibilities and motorists. Always ride with traffic and to the right side of the road (unless you are making a left turn) and follow all the rules of the road.
Make sure to stop at stop signs and red lights and signal when turning. If a bike lane is available, use it. Many towns now have bike paths. Be sure to stop at all stop signs while on a bike path since many vehicles do not slow quickly enough when approaching a crosswalk and a collision could be catastrophic.
Before bicycling, you should also complete an “A B C Bike Checklist” and check your air and tires, brakes, and cranks and chains. Wear a properly fitting helmet and know how to communicate with other drivers using hand signals.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), you should also plan your route ahead of time, avoid texting, listening to music, and other distractions; and assume that drivers do not see you.
Driving defensively can make all the difference.
What If I Get Hit by a Car?
No matter how safe you are, being on the roadway as a bicyclist or pedestrian can be risky. If someone else’s negligence leads to a pedestrian or bicycle accident, Sette & Parnoff, PC can help. We have more than 45 years of experience helping people recover after accidents, and we can help you, too.
Discover our client-centered approach during a free consultation. Call us at (203) 285-3075 or contact us online today.