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Pedestrian Safety Tips for People Traveling by Night

Almost everyone is a pedestrian at some point during the day. We tend to take it for granted that we will be safe while out walking or biking, but data suggests that pedestrian injuries and fatalities caused by motor vehicle crashes are on the rise.

In 2018, the number of pedestrians killed in traffic crashes totaled 6,283 in the United States. In 2019, the Miami Herald reported that nine of the 20 deadliest U.S. cities for pedestrians are in Florida, with Orlando ranked in the top spot as the least safe city in the country.

The situation becomes even more dangerous for those traveling on foot or by bike after dark. The chance of being struck and killed as a pedestrian increases 1,100% after the sun goes down. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Associate (NHTSA), the vast majority of pedestrian accidents—roughly 75% to be exact—occur between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. Halloween night is especially dangerous, particularly for children, so exercise extra caution if you and your loved ones plan on Trick or Treating this year.

While all this may sound alarming, there are steps you can take to keep yourself safe after dark, including:

  • Avoid isolation: If you can, walk or cycle with one or more people to increase your chances of both being seen and receiving help if an accident occurs. Stick to busy areas as well. This will not only protect you from getting hit by a car but may also keep you from getting robbed or attacked.
  • Don’t wear headphones: If you do, keep the volume low or only wear one headphone at a time. Otherwise, you may have a hard time hearing cars approaching from behind.
  • Look both ways: Before you cross or enter a roadway, look left, right, then left again. Also, never enter the street from between parked cars. Make sure motorists can spot you as easily as you can spot them.
  • Make yourself visible: Wear brightly colored clothing and/or reflective gear to help drivers spot you more easily.
  • Stay sober: Walking or riding a bicycle while impaired by drugs or alcohol increases your chance of being struck by a moving vehicle.
  • Stick to well-lit areas: Do not travel on roads without lighting if at all possible and avoid taking shortcuts through poorly lit areas.

Pedestrians on Foot

Further tips for people walking at night are as follows:

  • Always walk on the sidewalk if there is one
  • If there are no sidewalks, walk against traffic so you can see oncoming vehicles approach
  • Cross roadways only at crosswalks, intersections, and other areas where drivers are more likely to watch out for people on foot
  • Yield the right of way to vehicles when the traffic lights are red, or crosswalk signals read “Don’t Walk”

Cyclists & Those Traveling by Scooter

Some tips geared specifically towards cyclists and people who travel by scooter and other vehicles that leave the rider exposed include:

  • Always always always wear a helmet (if you’re under 16 this is the law)
  • Never text and ride—stay alert
  • Obey all traffic laws, including signs, signals, and lane markings, as if you were driving
  • Ride in the same direction as vehicle traffic and stay as far to the right as possible
  • Use bike lanes whenever you can

A Note for Motorists

Anyone operating a motor vehicle on Florida’s roads has a duty to share the road and keep those around them safe. State law says that pedestrians have the right of way at crosswalks (Florida Statutes 316.130) and that cyclists as well as “every person propelling a vehicle by human power has all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle” (Florida Statutes 316.2065).

If you see someone riding a bike, by law you must provide clearance of at least three feet when driving alongside or passing them, and yield to any bicyclists in bike lanes. Also, when you park your vehicle, make sure to check for bicyclists who may be approaching before opening your car door.

Watch out for pedestrians while driving at night and avoid going over the speed limit, especially when visibility is low. Oftentimes after dark, drivers don’t see a person they are about to hit until it’s too late—speeding will make it even harder to stop and any injuries far more severe.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by a motorist in Florida while traveling on foot or cycling, contact our bicycleand pedestrianaccident attorney in Panama City, Florida at (850) 764-0383 or write to us online.

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