Pedestrians and Driving Safety


Pedestrians and Driving Safety

On one street corner, a mother with children in tow struggles to keep her toddler from darting into the street. On another, a group of teenagers carelessly laugh and talk on their cellphones without paying attention to the traffic just inches away. Those are two examples of why pedestrians pose a special hazard for parking companies, because unlike vehicles, they’re less predictable and much more difficult to see.
Whether it be at a crosswalk, stepping between cars or coming out from behind an obstacle without a moment’s notice, anyone you have behind the wheel needs to be highly cautious of pedestrian surroundings and movement to avoid injury and liability.
Here are some helpful safety tips for your drivers to implement while on duty:
If there is no dedicated walkway and pedestrians are walking in a traffic lane, slow down and give them at least 5 feet of space.
Watch sidewalks and other pedestrian walkways, and be extra cautious when making turns. People often stand too close to the edge while waiting to cross a traffic lane, and a driver who cuts the corner could strike them. Pedestrians also have a bad habit of walking in your “blind spots,” so watch your mirrors and make certain no one is in the way before you turn or back up.
Always scan the area around crosswalks as you approach them. If you see pedestrians, slow down and assume they want to cross. Don’t trust them to wait for you – they might misjudge your speed and dart in front of you. If there is no crossing light or stop sign, give the pedestrians a break. Stop completely behind the crosswalk and let them go.
If you see another vehicle stopped ahead, then you also should stop and figure out why it stopped. The other driver might see something you don’t, such as small children or an animal running in the lane. Be certain the way is clear before you proceed.
Never pass a slow-moving vehicle in any area where there might be pedestrians. Someone might be tempted to beat the slow-moving vehicle and dart past it and into your path as you pass. Be patient and maintain your place until you can check the way ahead and pass safely.
•    Pedestrians with iPods or cellphones might be unable to hear you and too distracted to watch for you. Slow down, and make eye contact if possible. If you can’t, assume you are invisible to them and
act accordingly.
• In most states, pedestrians have the right-of-way, regardless of whether there is a marked crosswalk. The bottom line is, if you hit a pedestrian, whether or not you have the right-of-way, the courts are going to find you negligent and responsible for the injuries. Err on the side of caution.
• Pedestrians are more difficult to see in low light, such as early morning or evening. Slow down and scan intersections, walkways, and the sides of the traffic lane. Watch for movement, stay alert, and always yield the right-of-way to pedestrians.

Intersection Do’s and Don’ts
Intersections are one of the most common locations for traffic accidents.
Besides the potential for vehicles moving in four directions, intersections may also feature: stopped, slowing or speeding vehicles; drivers changing lanes; pedestrians; and drivers attempting to enter moving traffic.
Because intersections present so many unpredictable situations, a good defensive driver will always try to anticipate what might happen before arriving at one.
Parking garage owners and operators can use defensive driving as a tool for their drivers. To utilize this tool, keep in mind the following:
•   Remember that the first vehicle to arrive at an intersection has the right-of-way. If two vehicles arrive at the same time, the vehicle to the right has the right-of-way. But if another driver takes the right-of-way, even though it is not his turn, yield and let him pass. Having an accident is far more inconvenient than waiting a few seconds for an inconsiderate driver.
•       Never enter an intersection at the top of the posted speed limit, even if it’s controlled with a traffic light. Green lights and stop signs are indicators of the right-of-way, but they cannot think or see, and will not stop another oncoming vehicle. Don’t trust them.
•  Stop completely behind the crosswalk before entering an intersection and look to see it is safe to enter. The immediate danger is the traffic coming from the left, so look left first to make sure all traffic is stopped or stopping. Then look right – if it is safe, enter the intersection.
•       Watch ahead for drivers to the right who are stopped and appear to be planning a right turn into oncoming traffic. Many times they don’t want to get caught behind a slower driver and will pull out into the lane in an attempt to “beat” them.
•   Also watch for drivers who are attempting a left turn across oncoming traffic. They might also attempt to “beat” approaching traffic by pulling out when it’s not safe. Anticipate their actions, and be prepared to stop.
•   When waiting to turn, pay particular attention to pedestrians and bicyclists. While a driver is looking left for oncoming traffic, pedestrians might be attempting to cross the street from the right. Never start a right turn until looking left, then right, then left again, and always give pedestrians the right-of-way, even if it’s your “turn.”
•       Whenever entering an intersection, even if it is your “turn,” make sure there’s enough room to get completely across it. Also, before starting the turn, make sure there are no vehicles or pedestrians blocking the lane or crosswalk ahead. It’s a nuisance, and a danger, to be caught in an intersection if some part of the vehicle is blocking a traffic lane or a crosswalk.
•       Don’t make any unexpected moves in an intersection, especially if your turn signal is on. Other drivers may trust the intentions indicated by the signal and pull into the intersection. Pedestrians also have a tendency to step into the crosswalk if they don’t anticipate oncoming traffic. If you suddenly change your mind and don’t turn, you might find yourself occupying the same space with them.
•       Be courteous at all times, and forgiving if another driver makes a mistake. Everyone errs at some time. Your goal should be to help the other driver recover quickly and safely from his mistake so that everyone arrives at their destinations without incident.

Kathy Phillips, CIC, CPP, is Senior Vice President
of Alliant Insurance Services. She can be contacted at


Article contributed by:
Kathy Phillips
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