Behind the wheel or on foot, think two steps ahead

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September is Pedestrian Safety Month, and the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) is asking drivers and people walking to look out for one another.

“Despite advances in vehicle technology that act as additional safety measures for drivers and passengers involved in a crash, pedestrians are still just as vulnerable as in years past,” OTS Director Barbara Rooney said.

“Whether we are driving or walking, we are all going places so it is important that we avoid bad habits and put safety first.”

According to a report released this year by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), a projected 6,227 pedestrian deaths occurred nationwide last year, the highest number since 1990. In California, 858 pedestrians were killed in 2017, accounting for nearly 25 percent of all traffic deaths.

It is why the OTS is working with our safety partners, state and local agencies on educating the public about safe roadway habits, regardless of how you get around.

“People should not be afraid of a car hitting them as they cross the street,” Rooney said.

“Having said that, it is important that pedestrians are aware of their surroundings and think about how they would want a pedestrian to act if they were the one driving.”

The OTS offers the following tips for drivers and pedestrians to help ensure we all get to where we need to go safely:

Pedestrians

  • Cross the street at crosswalks, preferably with a stop sign or signal. Do not cross the street midblock (no jaywalking).
  • Make eye contact with drivers.
  • Look for cars backing up. Avoid darting between parked cars.
  • Wear bright color clothing during the day and use a flashlight at night.
  • Do not use your cell phone or wear ear buds while walking.

Drivers

  • Avoid distractions such as a cell phone.
  • Never drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Watch for pedestrians when backing up.
  • Follow the speed limit.
  • Yield to pedestrians at crosswalks. Make sure the path is clear before making a turn at an intersection.

The OTS administers funding for traffic safety programs statewide with the goal of reducing crashes that result in deaths, injuries, and economic losses. The OTS is a department under the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA).

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