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Walk Safe

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How Pedestrians Can Avoid Injury

The Baltimore County Fire and Police Departments respond to more than 400 pedestrian-vehicle crashes each year. In 2013, the number of fatal pedestrian crashes reached a five-year high. And in most cases, pedestrian error was a major factor.

The reality of pedestrian crashes in Baltimore County is far different from the common perception of the problem.

  • 80 percent of pedestrian crashes are the fault of the pedestrian
  • 60 percent of pedestrians killed are adults over age 40
  • Every day someone is hurt or killed crossing the street in Baltimore County

The Walk Safe campaign aims to educate citizens on the traffic laws that apply to pedestrians, and the specific dangers associated with crossing illegally or while distracted. The following resources will help you avoid injury as a pedestrian, and make the roads safer for pedestrians when you're driving.

Tips for Walking Safely

You might be surprised that pedestrian error is often the cause of fatal crashes. Just as drivers are expected to avoid distractions, it's important for pedestrians to do the same. Time of day is also an important factor in these crashes, as the majority of pedestrian crashes happen between 3 and 10 p.m.

Here are a few simple safety precautions you can take while walking:

  • Always cross at traffic lights, marked crosswalks or intersections.
  • Obey traffic signals at all times. Don't attempt to cross if the signal tells you to stop.
  • Stay alert when crossing. Even when the signal says WALK, you should check that the path is clear.
  • Try to make eye contact with drivers before stepping off the curb.
  • Walk on the sidewalk whenever possible. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the side of the road, facing traffic.
  • Wear bright or reflective clothing at night.
  • Avoid distraction when crossing. Turn off headphones and put away your cell phone before crossing.

Video: Getting There Safely

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has put together an instructional video that demonstrates both safe and unsafe pedestrian behavior. The video also answers common questions and addresses misconceptions about exactly what your responsibilities are as a pedestrian.

Walk Safe Posters

These posters present important facts about pedestrian crashes and provide a web address to direct people to additional information.

Know the Laws

To help maintain safety on the roads, there are traffic laws governing the behavior of both motorists and pedestrians. One of the biggest misconceptions that people have is the idea that pedestrians always have the right of way. While there are situations where this is true, there are also situations where the pedestrian is expected to yield to vehicles.

Laws for Pedestrians

  • At an intersection, a pedestrian is subject to all traffic control signals.
  • If a pedestrian crosses a roadway at any point other than in a marked crosswalk or in an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, the pedestrian shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching on the roadway.
  • If a pedestrian crosses a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing is provided, the pedestrian shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching on the roadway.
  • Between adjacent intersections at which a traffic control signal is in operation, a pedestrian may cross a roadway only in a marked crosswalk.
  • A pedestrian may not cross a roadway intersection diagonally unless authorized by a traffic control device for crossing movements. If authorized to cross diagonally, a pedestrian may cross only in accordance with the traffic control device.
  • If practicable, a pedestrian shall walk on the right half of a crosswalk.
  • Where a sidewalk is provided, a pedestrian may not walk along and on an adjacent roadway.
  • Where a sidewalk is not provided, a pedestrian who walks along and on a highway may walk only on the left shoulder, if practical, or on the left side of the roadway, as near as practical to the edge of the roadway, facing any traffic that might approach from the opposite direction.
  • A pedestrian who crosses a roadway shall yield the right-of-way to any approaching emergency or police vehicle that is using audible and visual signals.

Laws for Motorists Around Pedestrians

  • The driver of a vehicle must stop for a pedestrian at crosswalks and intersections without signals when the pedestrian is on the half of the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling OR the pedestrian is approaching within one lane of the half of the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling.
  • The driver of a vehicle must stop for a pedestrian at intersections with signals.
  • When proceeding on a green signal, drivers turning right or left shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians lawfully within the crosswalk.
  • When turning right on red after stopping, drivers shall yield the right of way to pedestrians lawfully within the crosswalk.

Other Resources

Revised June 24, 2014

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