Pedestrian safety in Illinois: Do’s and don’ts of sharing the road

Pedestrian accidents often result in serious injuries or death in Illinois, but there are things that walkers can do to help safely share the streets.

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, there were over 4,600 collisions involving pedestrians in 2014. Many such crashes result in serious injuries or death for the pedestrians. Although not all accidents involving walkers and joggers are preventable, following these do's and don'ts may help people to safely share the roads with motor vehicles.

Walkers, joggers and anyone else who is on the sidewalks or streets may be at risk of being struck by a vehicle. However, the risk of being involved in such crashes may be increased for some groups. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that children, older adults and those who are alcohol-impaired may be more likely to be involved in a pedestrian accident.

Do use the crosswalk

A number of pedestrian-involved collisions occur because the drivers did not see the walker or jogger. Therefore, it is advisable that pedestrians always use a crosswalk or cross at an intersection. Motorists often slow through these areas and may be more aware of walkers and joggers, which may reduce the chances of them striking a pedestrian with their vehicles. Additionally, it is recommended for people to walk on the sidewalk or in other areas designated for pedestrians, or as far off the side of the road as possible.

Do not get distracted

When people are looking down at their phones, they are generally less in tune with what is going on around them. As a result of such distractions, pedestrians may unintentionally walk out in front of a vehicle or fail to notice developing situations on the roads. Thus, it is suggested that pedestrians avoid distractions while walking. This includes reading or sending text messages and using other applications that may divert their attention away from the road and the automobiles around them.

Do dress appropriately

When out walking or jogging, it is best that people dress for optimal visibility. The CDC recommends that pedestrians wear reflective clothing at night. Wearing lightly colored clothing at night and carrying a flashlight may also help make people more visible to drivers, which may reduce their risk of being involved in a pedestrian accident. During the day, pedestrians are advised to wear brightly colored clothing.

Do not walk and drink

Most people are aware that drinking and driving is dangerous. However, so too is drinking and walking. According to the CDC, 34 percent of those killed in pedestrian-involved collisions were considered legally intoxicated with a blood alcohol level of at least .08 percent. If people who plan to get home on foot have had too much to drink, it is suggested that they call for a ride or take public transportation instead of walking.

Do seek legal guidance

The injuries that people in Illinois may suffer as a result of being struck by a vehicle may have devastating consequences. They may require extensive medical treatment, which may affect their ability to work and provide for their families, as well as lead to unexpected medical bills. In some cases, however, the drivers involved in such crashes may be held liable for the damages. Therefore, those who have been injured in pedestrian accidents may benefit from consulting with an attorney to discuss their legal rights and options.