Walking is a great form of exercise. It’s low-impact, simple to do and free. For some people, it’s also a viable mode of transportation between their homes and places of work. Whether they walk out of necessity or choice, it has numerous benefits for pedestrians.

However, walking is not without its risks. Some reports say that the number of pedestrian fatalities has gone up in recent years. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Association estimates that pedestrian deaths went up by 4% last year. Fortunately, experts also have helpful suggestions to keep pedestrians safe whether you’re a pedestrian yourself here in Pennsylvania or behind the wheel.

Safety tips if you’re a pedestrian

  • Sidewalks – Use sidewalks or walking paths whenever you can. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the side of the road facing traffic.

  • Visibility – Wear brightly colored clothing and use reflective items at night. Make eye contact with drivers you encounter to be certain they see you.

  • Crosswalks – Make use of crosswalks. If there aren’t any, cross where it is well-lit, wait for a break in traffic and stay alert.

Safety tips if you’re a driver

  • Observation – Always watch for pedestrians, even in areas you wouldn’t think they might be. Use extra caution around schools and in residential areas.

  • Local laws – Pay attention to speed limits. Make sure that you stop for a person at a crosswalk.

  • Passing – If you come to vehicles stopped at a crosswalk, don’t pass them. There could be a pedestrian crossing at the moment.

Why do pedestrian accidents happen?

Though there are many reasons that a motor vehicle might be in an accident with a pedestrian, experts say there is one factor that appears in many of these crashes. Distraction of any kind can increase the chances of having a pedestrian accident. Some pedestrians choose to listen to music over headphones or use their mobile phones. In either case, the pedestrian might miss a visual or audio cue that danger is present, such failing to see a traffic light or not hearing an approaching car.

Drivers can also be distracted by mobile phones, other passengers or something else in their vehicle. In either case, a distraction can cause a fatal mistake. If you or someone you care about has been hurt in a pedestrian accident with a motor vehicle, it is important that you understand your legal rights. There are ways to hold a driver accountable for his or her negligence.