How Pedestrians Can Walk Safely

And Tips for Drivers Sharing the Road

The number of pedestrians dying on America’s roads appears to be on the rise. While final reporting and analysis of 2018 traffic deaths are still underway, early estimates by NHTSA point to pedestrian deaths increasing 4% over the previous year. On average, a pedestrian died every 88 minutes in 2017 – accounting for 16% of all traffic fatalities.



Over the past decade, there’s been an increase in pedestrian fatalities. Deaths increased 35% when comparing 2008 and 2017 fatalities.



Distractions can be a factor in pedestrian crashes. Walkers wearing headphones or using a cell phone might not hear a car horn, or miss a traffic signal at a crosswalk and distracted drivers may not see a pedestrian. It’s essential for both drivers and pedestrians to avoid distractions and be mindful of traffic laws.


While we know the dangers of driving drunk or high, it’s important to understand that walking while impaired can be dangerous too. An estimated 33% of pedestrians 16 and older who were killed in 2017 were drunk.

NHTSA offers tips for getting home safely if you’re impaired.


Safety Tips for Walkers and Drivers

Every day, millions of people use various forms of transportation to get around, and at some point, everyone is a pedestrian. While out on the roads, keep these safety tips in mind every day.



  • Every day, millions of people use various forms of transportation to get around, and at some point, everyone is a pedestrian. While out on the roads, keep these safety tips in mind every day.

  • Never assume drivers see you; they could be distracted or impaired. It’s best to make eye contact with drivers to make sure you are seen, and to generally be aware of your surroundings – particularly when crossing the street.

  • Always cross streets at marked crosswalks or signalized intersections whenever possible; this is where drivers expect pedestrians.

  • If a marked crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well lit area, wait for a gap in traffic that allows you enough time to cross safely, and continue to watch for traffic as you cross.

  • Make yourself visible by wearing bright colored clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials (especially on arms, legs, and feet) or use a flashlight at night.


  • Look for pedestrians everywhere. Pedestrians may be walking in unexpected areas, or may be hard to see – especially at night, in poorly lit areas, or in bad weather.

  • Follow pedestrian safety laws in your state or local area – always stop or yield for pedestrians in the crosswalk.

  • Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. They might be stopped to allow pedestrians to cross the street.

  • Stay alert where children may be present, like in school zones and neighborhoods.

  • Slow down and carefully adhere to posted speed limits, particularly in urban and pedestrian-heavy areas. Speed is one of the most important factors in pedestrian crash survivability.


Ways to Get Home Safely

After You Make the Right Decision to Not Drive Drunk or High

You’ve made the right decision to not drive impaired, now the next step is finding a safe way home. Before you pick up your phone to book a driver or call a taxi, it’s important that you know how to stay safe.


Ride-Sharing, Ride-Hailing and Taxis

Confirm your ride by checking the license plate.

  • Before getting into a ride-hailing vehicle, make sure the car and license plate match what you booked through the app. Many of these cars can look alike. You should also look at the driver and ask them their name to confirm it matches the name and photo in the app.

Find a safe spot to be picked up.

  • Pickup locations for ride-hailing services aren’t usually centralized. You should pick a location where you can wait inside until the driver arrives. If that’s not possible, choose an area to wait that’s away from the roadway, well lit, and where your driver can safely stop. Request that your driver drop you off in a safe spot too.

  • Don’t step into the road to flag down a ride. Go to a taxi stand, call for a cab or request someone call a ride for you. It’s never a good idea to accept a ride from a stranger who may stop after seeing you looking for a ride.

Wear a seat belt.

  • Even if it’s a quick ride and you’re in the back seat, you should always buckle up, and make sure that your driver wears their seat belt, too.

Bikes and Scooters

Don’t ride a bike or scooter after drinking alcohol or using drugs.

  • About 26% of the bicyclists who died in 2017 had been drinking. Even a small amount of alcohol can cause balance issues and delayed reaction time. If you’re impaired, leave the bike or scooter behind, and choose a safe form of transportation.


Know that walking home drunk or high can be dangerous.

  • An estimated 32% of deadly pedestrian crashes in 2017 involved a person who was drunk and walking. Avoid walking home if you’ve been drinking or using drugs. If you choose to walk, remember to obey traffic signs and signals. If there isn’t a sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from vehicles as possible. Be visible, especially at night. 75% of pedestrian deaths in 2017 happened when it was dark.

Public Transportation

Be vigilant.

  • When using a bus or train to get home, be aware of your surroundings, especially if you’re traveling alone. Be careful on train platforms. Do not stand or walk too close to the edge. Choose a seat near the driver or operator. Don’t sleep on a train or bus. Look to see if there is an emergency call button should you need it – a cell phone might not always work.

While it’s best to plan ahead for a sober driver, or consider staying over, it’s important to know how to stay safe when considering other forms of transportation. And remember, never drive drunk or high.