21 Walking Safety Tips

21 Walking Safety Tips

Nearly 6000 pedestrians were killed in 2017! Let me repeat that, nearly 6000 pedestrians were killed in 2017 which continued a steadily increasing trend of pedestrian deaths. Don’t become a statistic! Commit to following these 21 walking safety tips.

More and more, both drivers and pedestrians are distracted. Distractions are the number three cause of pedestrian fatalities behind speeding and failure to yield which are the two leading causes of pedestrian fatalities.

Fact: Nearly 70 percent of all pedestrian accidents happen at night.

It’s been well-documented that drivers are distracted by their devices leading to a rise in traffic crashes. So, before you head out on your next walk, put these 21 walking safety tips into practice.

21 Walking Safety Tips!

Taking precautions is a must when walking. Let’s face it, you most likely will be walking in your neighborhood and whether urban, suburban, or rural, a good deal of the time you will be on or very near a road.

Also, you may find yourself walking at night, or walking in un-crowded isolated areas.

Let’s begin with these 21 pedestrian safety tips and information to make your walking experience a safe, pleasant, and beneficially healthy!


Walk Facing Traffic

It will save your life!

1. Walk Facing Traffic: If you remember only one lesson from this website please let it be this, if you walk on the side of the road, you must face into oncoming traffic. You need to see what’s approaching in order to avoid serious injury. Read WALKING SAFELY ON THE ROAD – WALK FACING TRAFFIC

2. Be Seen: If you remember only two lessons from this article (the first being to face traffic) it’s that you must, must, must wear reflective clothing when walking at night. 70% of all pedestrian fatalities happen at night. It all comes down to reaction time, and drivers can’t react to what they don’t see. In the daytime, you should always wear bright colored clothing to be seen by drivers.

3. Crossing Safely at intersections is your responsibility: Don’t assume vehicles will stop! Yes, I know legally, when pedestrians are in a crossway, cars are supposed to stop… the operative words being suppose-to. Let’s face it, drivers are distracted, obtuse, clueless, concerned about getting that parking stop just beyond the crosswalk, or any of a hundred different reasons. The crosswalk laws do not mean a thing if you are hurled over the hood of a car because you assumed that you have the right of way. Be safe, be seen, and be smart. When crossing a street, make eye contact with the driver of the car. Give them a wave and make sure they see and respond to you. Use the left, right, left rule. Look left, then right, then left again as this is the side of the road cars will be approaching you. Watch for turning vehicles. If a driver cut the corner, you may find yourself under a tire.

4. Walk Single file on the road: While walking side by side is a more natural thing to do, on the road this can only lead to trouble. You are much more exposed to the roadway, and when drivers come around a blind curve, this could give them and you less reaction time to avoid a collision.

5. Be “Boring”: What I mean by this is you should just walk in a predictable manner. No sudden swerving out into the roadway, no randomly waving your arms out. See #18 for my cautionary tale.

6. Walk Defensively: Don’t ever challenge a vehicle or ever assume the drivers know when you have the right of way. Also, err on the side of caution. The very size of a car negates all of your rights as a pedestrian.

7. Always carry Identification and important medical information.

8. Don’t walk alone at night (if possible): Working full time, then getting home after the sun sets is common in winter. If you must walk at night please take the following precautions:


Be Safe, Be Seen

You must wear a reflective vest at night!

-Wear a reflective vest! (tip #2) If you remember only two lessons from this website (the first one being to face traffic) then this is number two. A reflective vest will save your life. Think about how many times you have driven at night only to see a pedestrian at the very last moment. Put yourself in the driver’s seat…what will make it easier for you to be seen?

-Carry and use a flashlight or better yet a headlamp. Headlamps are now a very common household item and are sold at all local hardware and big box stores.

9. Keep in contact: When you are walking alone, let someone know where you’ll be walking and when you expect to return, then let that person know that you have returned. This should develop into a habit, and could get you valuable help to you if you miss placing the return call.

10. Be alert: When walking near wooded areas, dense brush, doorways, and courtyards you need to be aware of your surroundings and any possible threats.

11. Don’t wear lots of jewelry or carry much cash.

12. Beware of Strangers: It’s unfortunate to even have to write about this but yes, there is always a possibility that you will draw the unwanted attention of the criminal element. Be prepared. Walk in areas that have other walkers, runners, foot traffic, and cars (believe it or not). Acting alert and aware can convince a bad guy that they should move on. For added peace of mind, carry pepper spray or other protection devices.

13. Protection Devices: I usually carry a small pepper spray clipped to my belt in case a dog (or human) gets too aggressive for comfort.

14. Keep your earbud volume down: Listening to audiobooks or music while walking is a wonderful way to utilize your time. But, keep the volume at a level where you can also hear your environment. You need to be aware of cars, kids, dogs, and other factors in order to walk safely. You also thank yourself in years to come that your hearing wasn’t blown out while staying in shape.

-A note on headphones: I love to walk and listen to motivational speakers, audiobooks, and music. I listen to some form of audio about 75 percent of the time. My advice is to keep the sound at a reasonable volume so you can also hear what is going on in your surroundings.

15. Avoid Distracted Walking: Hang up the phone! Stop talking, stop texting, stop playing games. You will be less likely to anticipate any approaching trouble whether it’s drivers, tripping hazards, passing runners, approaching dogs or of more concern, potential criminals that view you as a distracted, easy target.

16. If You Walk Your Dog: Keep the leash short so the dog doesn’t dart out unexpectedly into traffic or trip a runner or other walkers.

17. Be aware of sun glare! In late fall and early spring, during early morning hours, the sun is low on the horizon setting up a situation that on some roadways where drivers are facing east they are looking directly into the sun. Keep this in mind because during these brief periods of time, drivers:

-Can’t see more than a few yards in front of their car.

-Are so focused on the road that they don’t see anything else.

-Can’t anticipate pedestrians at the curbside ready to cross the road.

-I recently had a situation where the sun glare combined with a wet roadway nearly blinded me from above (the sun) and below (the glare from the road). It was so bad that I couldn’t see the crossing guard in full neon green reflective gear until I was nearly driving past him. He was standing on the double yellow strip in the middle of the road. I stopped and cautioned him about the sun glare and for him to be careful as motorist literally can’t see him.

18. Watch and listen for runners: Runners should also follow these rules which put them going in the same direction as you. Listen for footsteps behind you so you are not suddenly startled by a passing runner. This has happened to me a few times and just recently my natural reaction was to lift my arms up in a defensive position which cause me to nearly elbow a woman runner as she passed! She could have avoided this situation by calling out that she was “passing on the right”.

19. Watch and listen for bicyclist: Remember that bike should be riding in the same direction as cars. So, they will be coming at you but, quietly. Pay particular attention while crossing streets as, once again, bikes will be coming at you from the same directions as cars. Think: left, right, left when crossing.

20. Know Your Walking Limits: Over-exertion, heat illnesses, frostbite, dehydration, and other serious health issues could happen while overdoing

21. Program 911 into your cellphone: Also, let someone know your plans. Where you are walking, what time you should return, and make it a habit to contact that person upon your return.

Your Next Step

Keep these 21 walking safety tips in mind the next time you walk. Remember that it’s your safety! Do not assume anything about what a driver or others are going to do. If you keep your wits about you then all will work out fine.

As I’ve said in the past, walking for health and fitness is a great way to get in shape and stay in shape and walking on the road is an excellent way to keep the process interesting. New places to see, people to meet, hills to climb, roads to conquer, and miles to add to your total.

Taking some precaution along the way will keep you walking safely for years to come.