Walk This Way!
As I take my regular walks through town, I’m always surprised by the number of people who walk with their backs to the traffic. I was taught to walk facing traffic.
So I decided to do the research. (I was a librarian…..)
Most states have traffic laws that require pedestrians to walk facing traffic if there is no sidewalk available. That means walking to the left side of the road.
We were all taught as children to walk to the right. And as drivers, we drive on the right side.
But those rules don’t include what should happen when cars and people are sharing the road.
Here are some tips:
- Walk facing traffic that provides the best safety and allows you change direction or move farther to the side. If you walk with your back to traffic you need to keep looking behind you to check on the traffic, and you’re not watching where you are going. Unlike cars, you don’t have a rear-view mirror.
- Make eye contact with drivers. Wave.
- Walk single-file on curves. Drivers aren’t expecting to see a group on the other side of the curve.
- Don’t be distracted by your phone. Don’t text or read email while you are walking! “…distracted walking causes more accidents per mile that distracted driving.”
- Be aware of bicyclists and joggers. Listen.
- If you are listening to your iPod, keep the volume low and only use one earbud. Traffic noise can give you important safety signals. I had a neighbor who not only walked with his back to traffic, but wore the big, industrial headphone most often seen on airport ground crews. I always gave him a lot of room when I drove past him. He never noticed.
- Be visible. At night, wear reflective clothing and carry a flashlight.