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Keeping Safe While You Enjoy Walking More

Sep 18, 2020 9:58:26 AM

During the emergency shut down in Massachusetts because of the pandemic, people have had time to make some positive changes in their lifestyle. Many people have given thought to improving their mental and physical health through increased outdoor activity. And one of the simplest and cheapest forms of exercise is just taking a walk.

But as walking increases,  so do accidents involving pedestrians and vehicles. Between 2017 and 2018 the number of pedestrian deaths increased 3% to 6,283. Another estimated 137,000 pedestrians were treated in emergency departments for nonfatal crash-related injuries in 2017. And finally, pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to be killed in a car crash.  (Source: NHTSA)

So with the fall season approaching, with it's crisp air and autumnal foliage, here are some safety tips to allow you, your kids and your family seniors to enjoy Autumn in our beautiful community and state.

Safety Practices for Walkers

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According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (nhtsa), there are some simple things we can do.

* Walk with a friend. Walking with a friend will add to the pleasure of your walk and increase your safety as well, as long as you are watching out for each other. Enjoy your conversation, but don't let it distract you from watching out for road and traffic hazards as you walk.

* Wear sturdy shoes that will give you proper footing. A running or walking shoe that supports your foot from side to side is best.

* Be especially careful in parking lots. Parking lots create special hazards because cars may be turning quickly or backing out of a parking space. Be sure to look for backup lights and listen for engine noise.

* Increase your visibility at night by carrying a flashlight when walking and wearing reflective clothing, such as reflective vests.* Walk on a sidewalk or path instead of the road. Walk on the shoulder and facing traffic if a sidewalk or path is not available.

* Watch for cars and other objects that can obscure a driver's view. Cars, buses, hedges, or mounds of snow can block a driver's view. Even if a driver has stopped to let you cross the street, don't blindly accept the driver's offer because there may be another vehicle in the next lane overtaking the stopped vehicle. And the second driver can't see you because of the stopped vehicle. 

* Avoid using electronic devices like earbuds or cell phones. They can cause distractions and impair judgement and coordination.

Plan to Avoid Hazardous Crossings

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The safest crossing points will have:

  1. enough room for you to stand back from the roadway,
  2. crosswalks that are clearly defined on the pavement, and
  3. crossing signals that indicate when you should cross.

* Wide avenues that require pedestrians to cross in phases should have an island where you can stand until the next "fresh green" (a fresh green is the newly changed green light on the traffic signal in front of you as you stand facing the direction you want to cross) or walk signal phase.

* Stop and look for traffic in all directions before crossing the street, and look to the left, right, and left again-even on a one-way street. Again, always look left last because that is the direction that cars will be coming from when you first step off the curb.

* Don't rely only on traffic signs and signals. Assuming that a signal will stop traffic puts you at risk. You must look for traffic even if you are in a crosswalk and you are crossing with the light or with the walk signal. A driver who does not see or obey a sign or signal may also not be paying enough attention to see you.

* Allow plenty of time to cross streets. If you're not sure how long a signal gives you to cross, observe one light cycle so you'll know how much time you have. If the signal does not provide enough time, find another place to cross the street. Otherwise, cross the street when you get a "fresh green."

* Intersections are especially difficult for older pedestrians. You are most at risk when first stepping off the curb, because drivers may not see you until you're actually in the roadway. Always stop at the curb and look left, right, then left again for cars before entering the roadway. Don't assume the drivers see you unless they signal for you to cross.

*Turning vehicles can be especially dangerous at intersections. Drivers are concentrating on making their turns and avoiding oncoming traffic, so they might not see you! Exaggerate your head turns so that you look in all directions, including behind you. Make sure you look for vehicles making right turns on red and for vehicles making left turns. Always make sure the driver of a vehicle that is turning sees you.

Know The Crossing Signals

 

  • The steady DON'T WALK signal is like the red light, it means that you should stop at the curb and wait for the next WALK signal or green light.
  • The flashing DON'T WALK signal, like the yellow caution light, means that you shouldn't start to cross the street. However, if you are in the street when the signal begins flashing, don't stop or return to the curb. Continue to walk as fast as you can, comfortably, until you reach the other side or a pedestrian island.
  • The WALK signal, like the green light, does not mean that it is safe for you to start crossing without looking. It is best, even on a WALK signal, to check traffic for turning vehicles or oncoming cars. Before crossing at an intersection, you may want to wait for a "fresh green" light because it will give you the most crossing time. If there is a push button, press the button and wait for the WALK signal to come on.
  • Some areas are using a new WALK signal that counts down the seconds remaining for you to cross the intersection safely. When the seconds run out, a steady DON'T WALK light will come on because the traffic  light is about to change.

When you experience a loss, the "intangible" promises in your auto or homeowner policy suddenly become very tangible! We understand the need for sensitive treatment and fast action. Fair and prompt payment of a loss settlement is our immediate goal. This is the trust you placed in us when you chose the Keefe Insurance Agency. Maintaining your trust in these trying circumstances is a responsibility we take very seriously. Your complete satisfaction, if and when you have a claim, is our number one priority.

We are operating with a reduced staff during the emergency. Call us at 508-528-3310 or toll-free at 888-528-3310 before you stop by. Or email us. 

Sincerely,

Bob Keras & Peter Brunelli
Keefe Insurance Agency

DID YOU KNOW?

Who are most vulnerable for pedestrian accidents?  

Every age group is vulnerable. However, 10-14 year-olds, and 50-69 year-olds suffer 20% more pedestrian deaths than other groups according to the National Safety Council (NSC).  

Who bears more responsibility for accidents? Pedestrians or drivers?

Actually, it is a shared responsibility. Both drivers and walkers need to stay alert and obey all the rules of the road. However drivers have certain specific responsibilities.

These include: slowing down when approaching a crosswalk; observing speed limits in school zones; yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks, making eye contact to signal you see them; NEVER passing vehicles stopped at crosswalks; avoiding distracted driving; and never driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol

 Where can I find information on improving the walkability of our neighborhood?     

 The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration publishes a a Walkability Checklist and a Residents Guide for Creating Safe and Walkable Communities. Follow this link to find these and additional resources.

What are the safety considerations as I get older? 

As adults age, gradual losses in their hearing, vision, reflexes, and flexibility put older pedestrians at risk. For instance, stiff joints may make it harder to turn your head, neck, and shoulders and you may not see vehicles that are turning or backing up. So, turn your whole body, not just your neck, when looking for traffic.

Where can I find info for Seniors starting on the walking program to improve health??The NHTSA publishes a guide: Stepping out as an Older Adult: Be Healthy, Walk Safely. It can be found at this link.

What role does alcohol play in pedestrian accidents? ? 

Almost half (47%) of crashes that resulted in a pedestrian death involved alcohol for the driver and/or the pedestrian. One in every three (33%) fatal pedestrian crashes involved a pedestrian with a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.08 grams per deciliter (g/dL), 17% involved a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.08 g/dL, and some fatal pedestrian crashes involved both. (Source: CDC) 

Bob Keras

Written by Bob Keras

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