Safety hazards on sidewalks for pedestrians


Katie Gallaway

A yield to pedestrians sign next to a busy street gone ignored or unnoticed by many drivers.

Katie Gallaway, News Editor

    Students might imagine that a sidewalk is the safest place to be when walking next to a road, and that isn’t wrong; however, it is also more dangerous than many people realize.

     On Nov. 1, two adults and five children were hit by a speeding car in Tampa, Fla. as they waited for the school bus, all of whom are expected to make a full recovery. A seven-year-old boy had been hit and killed at a bus stop in Pennsylvania only an hour before on the same morning.

    The number of pedestrian fatalities has climbed 27 percent in the United States from 2007 to 2016, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association, and one of the major causes is distracted drivers and pedestrians alike.

    Drivers should always be cautious when driving, especially in more heavily populated areas that are likely to have a higher number of pedestrians.

    However, pedestrians can be just as distracted and ignore just as many safety guidelines as a driver could that would lead to injury or fatality.

    The first step for pedestrians to avoid possible traffic incidents is to always follow basic safety rules such as walking facing traffic, only crossing at designated crosswalks and never being distracted by a mobile phone or other electronic device.

    People, especially teens and children, are addicted to their phones with their eyes often glued to the bright screens for hours at a time. They want to text their friends, scroll through social media and relax by listening to music. However, doing this while walking along a roadside can be much more dangerous than one might think. A quick glance down to change the song could be a matter of life or death.

    This may seem overly dramatic. On the other hand, is a single text message or song really worth the cost of a life? Legacy Drive and the Dallas North Tollway in Plano made the top 70 of the most dangerous places for pedestrians in Texas in a study performed by Hill Law Firm. A fatal accident can happen anywhere when people aren’t paying attention.

    If roadside pedestrians paid more attention to their surroundings, they would be more likely to survive an incident where a car accidentally swerved off road or lost control. They would notice the dangerous situation and could try to dodge the oncoming vehicle.

    Other possible solutions might include lowering speed limits and manufacturing cars with better headlights. This is due to the fact that the majority of these types of accidents occur in the dark and involve vehicles with more horsepower. If a driver’s car swerves but they can see pedestrians walking alongside the road, then they would be more likely to try and avoid hitting them.

    Education on sidewalk dangers and pedestrian safety should have more emphasis because if people were less ignorant of something so easy to improve, it would save many precious lives.