Pedestrian Safety for Drivers, Older Adults, Kids and People With Disabilities

ByNathan Paulus
Edited byRae Osborn

Updated: December 9, 2023

ByNathan Paulus
Edited byRae Osborn

Updated: December 9, 2023

Advertising & Editorial Disclosure

Pedestrian safety is a pressing issue in the U.S., with over 7,000 fatalities and 60,000 injuries in 2021. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average auto liability claim for bodily injury was $24,211 in 2022 — meanwhile, a hospital stay in the U.S. costs, on average, $2,883 per day.

To avoid pedestrian accidents, drivers must practice vigilance, adhere to speed limits and engage safely, while pedestrians should use crosswalks, stay visible and remain alert. Special attention is needed for pedestrians with disabilities and older adults who face unique challenges in navigation. Mobile apps can play a supportive role through real-time safety updates and navigation assistance. For children, early education in road safety habits is critical.

Pedestrian Safety in the US

 
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In 2021, 7,388 pedestrians were killed, and over 60,000 pedestrians were injured nationwide.

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Adults ages 65 years and older accounted for 21% of all pedestrian deaths in 2021.

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In 2021, 49% of the incidents leading to pedestrian fatalities involved alcohol use by either the driver or the pedestrian.

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In 2020, 60% of pedestrian fatalities happened on high-capacity urban roads having speed limits between 45 and 55 miles per hour.

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The five most dangerous cities for pedestrians are Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Jackson, Mississippi; Macon, Georgia; Memphis, Tennessee; and Albuquerque, New Mexico.


Sources:

NHTSA; CDC

Pedestrian Safety Tips for Drivers

As a driver, you have to be vigilant, considerate and proactive to prevent accidents. Practice safe driving habits such as minimizing distractions, adhering to speed limits and yielding to pedestrians. Ensure a safer environment for everyone on the road with these tips:

Category
Tips

Awareness and Vigilance

  • Vigilance in Pedestrian Areas: Stay alert in urban areas and near schools and parks. Anticipate the pedestrians’ movements.
  • Nighttime Alertness: Exercise extra caution at night due to reduced pedestrian visibility. Follow MoneyGeek’s guide on safe driving at night.
  • Weather Awareness: Be mindful of pedestrians during adverse weather conditions. Reduced visibility and slippery roads increase the risk for pedestrians.

Driving Habits

  • Distraction-Free Driving: Avoid using your phone, changing radio stations or engaging in any activity that takes your focus off the road. Use MoneyGeek’s guide to avoiding distracted driving to learn more.
  • Adhere to Speed Limits: Obey speed limits, especially in pedestrian-heavy areas. Slower speeds give you more time to react.
  • Avoid Impaired Driving: Don’t drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Impairment significantly reduces your reaction time and ability to notice pedestrians. Follow MoneyGeek’s DUI prevention guide.

Interactions with Pedestrians

  • Right of Way: Always give pedestrians the right of way, even if they are not following rules.
  • Crosswalk Etiquette: Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks without blocking them.
  • Mindful Turning: Be cautious when making turns to spot pedestrians who might be crossing or about to cross.
  • Never Assume Visibility: Don't presume pedestrians can see you. Keep your windshield clean and headlights on for better visibility.
  • Making Eye Contact: Establish eye contact with pedestrians where possible to ensure mutual awareness.

Vehicle and Road Etiquette

  • Safe Reversing: Always check for pedestrians before backing up, especially in areas like parking lots and driveways.
  • Door Opening Caution: Look for pedestrians before opening your car door. A sudden door opening can be hazardous for passing pedestrians.
  • Passing With Care: Be cautious when passing stopped vehicles. They might be yielding to a pedestrian.

School Zone and Bus Safety

  • Respect School Buses: Do not pass stopped school buses as children may be crossing.
  • School Drop-off Protocol: Follow school drop-off rules diligently. Avoid double parking and ensure children are unloaded safely.

Apps for Drivers

These apps provide real-time traffic updates, prevent distracted driving and help drivers practice safe driving habits:

  • Waze. Offers live traffic updates and alerts on crash-prone roads, helping drivers navigate safely and efficiently.
  • LifeSaver. Blocks phone use while driving to keep drivers' attention on the road and pedestrians.
  • DriveMode. Simplifies phone interactions for safer driving, reducing risks for pedestrians.
  • RoadReady. Logs driving practice hours and conditions, helping new drivers gain experience in various scenarios, including pedestrian-dense areas.
  • Brake To Die. A game that encourages drivers to stay alert and responsive, indirectly promoting safer driving habits near pedestrians.
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UNDERSTAND AUTO INSURANCE COVERAGE

If you're a driver involved in a pedestrian accident, know how your auto insurance comes into play. Here are the key points:

  • Liability Coverage: If you are found at fault in a pedestrian accident, liability coverage helps pay for the pedestrian's medical expenses, lost wages and legal costs if you are sued. Ensure your policy has adequate limits.
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP): In no-fault states, PIP can cover medical expenses for you and the injured pedestrian, regardless of who caused the accident. This coverage can be a quick way to settle medical expenses without determining fault.
  • Medical Payments Coverage: Optional in many states, medical payments coverage helps pay for immediate medical costs for you and the pedestrian, irrespective of fault.

Coverage may vary based on your policy and state laws, so check the specifics with your insurance provider. Learn more about auto insurance with MoneyGeek’s tools and resources:

Safety Tips for Pedestrians

Be proactive and mindful of your surroundings to ensure safety on the roads. Use crosswalks and make eye contact with drivers. Stay alert, avoid distractions and always adhere to traffic signals. Take these safety tips for pedestrians to prevent accidents:

Category
Tips

General Safety Practices

  • Look Both Ways: Always look left, right and left again before crossing.
  • Mindful Turning: Be cautious when vehicles turn, as they may not see you.
  • Safe Group Walking: Walk in groups when possible, as groups are more visible to drivers.

Visibility and Awareness

  • Stay Visible: Wear bright or reflective clothing, especially at night or in bad weather, to ensure drivers can see you.
  • Carry a Flashlight at Night: Use a flashlight or smartphone light in poorly lit areas.
  • Be Cautious of Engine Noise: Remember that electric cars can be quiet, so don't rely solely on hearing.

Using Crosswalks and Sidewalks

  • Use Crosswalks and Intersections: Prefer marked crosswalks or intersections for crossing.
  • Walk on Sidewalks: Use sidewalks when available. If not, walk facing traffic.

Interaction with Vehicles

  • Make Eye Contact with Drivers: Ensure drivers see you before crossing in front of them.
  • Avoid Assumptions: Never presume a driver has seen you or will stop.
  • Crossing Multi-Lane Roads: Check each lane separately for approaching vehicles.

Distraction and Impairment

  • Stay Alert: Stay off electronic devices and avoid texting or wearing headphones while crossing.
  • Avoid Alcohol and Drugs: Impairment can compromise your safety.

Apps for Pedestrians

For the everyday pedestrian, these apps offer a range of tools to improve safety and navigation, from providing optimal walking routes to alerting users about potential hazards:

  • Google Maps. This provides pedestrian routes and real-time updates on sidewalk closures or hazards.
  • Crosswalk Timer. Offers a countdown for traffic lights, aiding safe crossing decisions.
  • MapMyWalk. It helps pedestrians plan and track their walking routes, ensuring safer journeys.
  • Sidewalk Buddy. Allows users to view their surroundings on-screen while using their phone, reducing distraction-related risks.
  • WalkSafe. Scans the road ahead for potential hazards, providing pedestrians with real-time safety alerts.
  • Companion. Allows friends or family to accompany the user virtually , ensuring safety during walks especially in less familiar or higher-risk areas.

Pedestrian Safety Tips for Older Adults

For older adults, pedestrian safety involves careful planning and heightened awareness due to mobility, vision and reaction time changes. Prioritize safe routes with good lighting and sidewalks, wear sturdy shoes and use walking aids as needed. These safety tips can help older adults navigate streets and crossings more effectively:

Category
Tips

Planning and Preparation

  • Plan Your Route: Choose routes with well-maintained sidewalks, ample lighting and easy-to-navigate crosswalks.
  • Wear Proper Footwear: Opt for comfortable, sturdy shoes with good grip to prevent slips and falls.
  • Use Walking Aids if Needed: Utilize canes or walkers for additional stability and support.
  • Regular Eye and Ear Check-ups: Maintain up-to-date checks on vision and hearing to ensure they’re not impairing your road awareness.
  • Educate Yourself on Local Traffic Laws: Stay informed about pedestrian laws.

Visibility and Awareness

  • Stay Visible: Wear brightly colored or reflective clothing, especially in low-light conditions.
  • Stay Alert: Focus on the road and traffic. Avoid distractions like mobile phones.
  • Use Visual and Hearing Aids: Always wear prescribed aids while walking.

Safe Crossing and Walking

  • Allow Extra Time: Allocate more time for crossing streets, considering any mobility limitations.
  • Check for Traffic Calmly: Look for vehicles in all directions before and during crossing.
  • Use Pedestrian Signals: Cross at designated crosswalks with signals. Start crossing only on a clear signal.
  • Mind Uneven Surfaces: Be cautious of uneven surfaces and obstacles to prevent trips and falls.
  • Avoid Rush Hours: Walk during less busy times to avoid heavy traffic.

Social and Adaptive Strategies

  • Walk With a Companion: Have a friend or family member accompany you for added safety and assistance whenever possible.
  • Join a Seniors Walking Group: Participate in a senior walking group for a safer environment and socialization.
  • Exercise Indoors if Needed: Consider indoor exercises like treadmill walking or fitness classes for challenging outdoor conditions.

Apps for Seniors and Older Adults

These apps support the mobility and safety of older adults. They offer solutions ranging from emergency assistance to fall detection and cognitive exercises:

  • SilverRide. Offers scheduled and on-demand transportation services for seniors, with added support for those with mobility challenges.
  • GoodSAM. It connects users with nearby medically trained volunteers and off-duty professionals in case of a medical emergency.
  • FallSafety Home. Utilizes the phone's sensors to detect falls, automatically alerting emergency contacts. It is ideal for older adults who enjoy walking but may be at risk of falls.
  • Luminosity. Offers games and activities to keep the mind sharp, promoting cognitive health, which is crucial for awareness and safety in navigating as pedestrians.

Safety Tips for Pedestrians With Disabilities

Pedestrians with disabilities should use mobility aids with high-visibility accessories and plan routes with accessible features like curb cuts. Always communicate your needs and carry your ID. Take these safety tips to enhance your mobility and safety on the road:

Category
Tips

Assistive Devices and Visibility

  • Use Assistive Devices: Always use prescribed mobility aids like wheelchairs, canes or service animals for safer navigation.
  • High-Visibility Accessories: Equip mobility aids with reflective materials or flags for better visibility.
  • Regular Maintenance of Mobility Aids: Keep mobility aids in good working condition.

Navigation and Planning

  • Plan Your Route: Choose routes with accessible sidewalks, curb cuts and pedestrian crossings.
  • Use Tactile Paving: When available, use tactile paving near crosswalks and transit platforms for guidance.
  • Use Routes With Audible Pedestrian Signals (APS): Opt for routes equipped with APS for guidance. APS benefits iindividuals with vision impairments, providing audible messages, tactile information and vibrotactile data to indicate when it is safe to cross a street.

Communication and Awareness

  • Communicate Your Needs: Ask for assistance when needed. Don't hesitate to ask fellow pedestrians or traffic officers if you need help.
  • Carry Identification and Medical Information: Have ID and medical info accessible in emergencies.
  • Be Aware of Weather Conditions: Plan for and adapt to different weather conditions that might affect your mobility or safety.

Crossing and Traffic Interaction

  • Practice Safe Crossing Techniques: Adopt street crossing techniques tailored to your disability.
  • Recognize Street Boundaries: Use different senses to identify sidewalks, streets and crosswalks.
  • Obey Crosswalk Signs: Follow Walk/Don't Walk signals at crosswalks and intersections.

Safety and Rights

  • Stay Informed About Your Rights: Understand your rights as a pedestrian with disabilities.
  • Educate Yourself on Local Traffic Laws: Familiarize yourself with traffic laws and regulations that pertain to pedestrians with disabilities.

Apps for Pedestrians With Disabilities

These apps designed for individuals with disabilities facilitate safer navigation through innovative features like real-time visual assistance, 3D audio mapping and accessible route planning:

  • Aira. Connects blind or low-vision users to trained agents who provide real-time visual information, aiding navigation and obstacle avoidance.
  • Be My Eyes. Connects visually impaired users with volunteers who assist with navigation and other visual tasks through live video calls.
  • Soundscape. Offers a 3D sound map of the environment, helping visually impaired users understand their surroundings and navigate safely.
  • Wheelmap. It helps users find and mark wheelchair-accessible locations, making planning routes and navigating public spaces easier.
  • BlindSquare. Combines GPS and voice technology to provide location information, making outdoor navigation safer and more accessible.

Teaching Children About Pedestrian Safety

Instill pedestrian safety habits in children early on. Start with basic pedestrian safety rules, like looking both ways before crossing and using crosswalks. Reinforce these through practice and role modeling. Follow these tips to teach children traffic and road safety in an engaging yet effective way:

Category
Tips

Basic Safety Rules

  • Start With Basic Rules: Teach looking left, right and then left again before crossing and using crosswalks and sidewalks.
  • Practice Together: Regularly walk with your children to demonstrate safe pedestrian behaviors.
  • Discuss the Dangers of Distracted Walking: Educate about the risks of using phones or headphones while walking.
  • Teach About Traffic Signals: Explain the meaning of traffic lights and pedestrian signals.
  • Identify Safe Places to Play: Emphasize that streets are not for playing and guide them to safer alternatives like parks or playgrounds.

Interactive Learning and Role Modeling

  • Be a Role Model: Consistently demonstrate safe pedestrian habits.
  • Use Games and Role-Playing: Engage in fun activities that simulate traffic lights or pedestrian crossings.
  • Use Educational Resources: Utilize books, videos and online resources for teaching designed to teach children about pedestrian safety.

Visibility and Communication

  • Explain the Importance of Visibility: Teach them to wear bright or reflective clothing, especially in low-light conditions.
  • Teach Them to Make Eye Contact With Drivers: Encourage them to ensure drivers see them before they cross the road.

Advanced Safety Concepts

  • School Route Planning: Practice the route to school, pointing out safe crossings and potential hazards.
  • Educate About Stranger Safety: Discuss avoiding strangers and not accepting rides or gifts.
  • School Bus Safety: Explain the danger zones around buses and the proper behavior on and around buses.
  • Walking Near Traffic and Crossing Safely: Teach them how to use sidewalks or face traffic, stop at driveways and cross quickly but safely.
  • Crossing at Intersections and Parking Lots: Help them practice being extra cautious and understand pedestrian crossing signals.

Apps for Teaching Kids Pedestrian Safety

Combine learning with play when you teach kids essential safety rules and awareness. Use these apps:

  • Green Cross Code Man. Teaches children the Green Cross Code — a simple and effective way to remember key pedestrian safety steps — through engaging, interactive content.
  • Safety Town. It is an interactive game that guides children through a virtual town, teaching them about pedestrian and road safety in various real-life scenarios.
  • Zebra Crossing. This is a game that simulates zebra crossings, teaching kids the importance of using crosswalks and observing traffic signals.
  • Traffic Dodger. This game helps children understand the importance of staying alert as pedestrians, teaching them to navigate through traffic safely in a virtual environment.
  • Crossy Road. It is a game to teach children the importance of looking out for cars and timing their crossings safely.
  • WalkSafe Kids. It provides children with alerts about their surroundings, teaching them to be more aware of potential hazards while walking.

About Nathan Paulus


Nathan Paulus headshot

Nathan Paulus is the Head of Content Marketing at MoneyGeek, with nearly 10 years of experience researching and creating content related to personal finance and financial literacy.

Paulus has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of St. Thomas, Houston. He enjoys helping people from all walks of life build stronger financial foundations.


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