Five safety tips for Colorado pedestrians

Not all pedestrian accidents in Colorado are avoidable, but there are things people can do to improve their safety when walking or jogging.

Over the course of the day, people in Colorado and elsewhere may walk to get from one place to another, for exercise or for any other number of reasons. With no vehicle to protect them, however, pedestrians are vulnerable to suffering serious injuries or death should they be struck by a vehicle. In fact, there were 5,376 fatal pedestrian accidents across the U.S. in 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports. Although not all such accidents are avoidable, there are things people can do to improve their safety when they are pedestrians.

Dress to be seen

Many pedestrian-involved crashes occur because the drivers did not see the pedestrians. Therefore, it is advisable for people who are going to be walking or jogging to were clothing to make themselves more visible. For example, dressing in brightly colored clothing during the day and lightly colored or retroreflective clothing at night may make it easier for motorists to see them. It may also be helpful to carry a flashlight when walking after dark.

Use sidewalks or designated paths

Drivers generally expect walkers and joggers to be on the sidewalk or in other areas designated for pedestrians. Consequently, they may not be looking for them on the road or the shoulder. To help avoid being struck by a vehicle, pedestrians should use sidewalks whenever possible. In areas where there are not sidewalks, people should walk as far away from the lanes of traffic as possible.

Follow the rules

Just as there are traffic laws for motorists, there are also rules pedestrians are expected to follow. Drivers expect those who are walking or jogging to obey these rules. Pedestrians should act in accordance with the local traffic laws, and observe the signs and signals on the road. Being predictable may help them avoid being struck by a vehicle, which may result in serious injuries or death.

Avoid distractions

Most people know that distractions are dangerous for drivers. However, they may also put walkers and joggers at risk. While looking down at their phones, listening to headphones or engaging in other distracting behaviors, pedestrians may not notice hazards or changes in the traffic conditions. As such, they may not see a situation they might have been able to avoid. Thus, it is important that people stay focused on what is going on around them and avoid distractions while walking or jogging.

Look both ways

For both children and adult pedestrians, the adage remains essential - look both ways before crossing the street. The NHTSA points out that since motorists may not see them until they are already in the road, people are most at risk for being struck by a vehicle when they first step off the curb. Therefore, they should always check to the left and right before stepping into the street to make certain it is clear or that any drivers have seen them.

Seeking legal guidance

As a result of being struck by a motor vehicle, pedestrians in Colorado may suffer serious injuries that require medical treatment. This may lead to undue medical expenses and, if they are forced to take time off work to recover, lost income. In some situations, however, the driver responsible may be held financially liable. Thus, it may be helpful for pedestrians who have experienced such situations to work with a lawyer. A legal representative may explain their rights and options for pursuing compensation.