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How to Stay Safe as a Pedestrian

— March 27, 2023

Walking can be a fantastic way to get around, reduce stress, improve health, and enjoy life.

Walking is good for your health and the environment. It benefits your mental health when used as transportation, cuts automobile traffic, and just feels good. Though, in urban areas, walkers can be extremely vulnerable.

Pedestrians in urban areas negotiate busy streets and cross uncontrolled intersections. In 2017, there were 6,516 pedestrian fatalities in the United States, according to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NTHSA). 

In 2021, 7,485 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents. These numbers seem to be on the rise, causing many states to instigate programs to try and reduce these fatalities. While the risks for walkers seem to be increasing, the benefits still may outweigh those risks.

The Benefits of Walking

It does not take much more motivation than nice weather to find a desire to get outside. One of the most excellent ways to enjoy a lovely day is by taking a brisk walk. While there certainly are an alarmingly large number of pedestrian accidents, especially those ending in death, walking can also prevent deaths as well. 

Studies show that if over 40 adults in the United States would walk ten extra minutes per day, 110,000 deaths could be prevented. That’s a significant reason to get out and take a stroll. 

Walking is a Simple Way to Help You Prevent Cancer

If you’re walking for exercise, which is the kind of walking you should be doing if you intend to improve your physical health, you should notice that your heartbeat is a little faster and you are a little out of breath. Walkers receive additional protection from some of the following types of cancer: 

  • Bladder
  • Breast
  • Colon
  • Kidney
  • Stomach   

A risk factor for many cancers is obesity, and by regularly walking, you can prevent obesity. In addition to that, you improve your immune system’s ability to function, you control hormones that are associated with cancer growth, and you discourage high blood glucose levels of insulin.

Stress Reduction is Another Benefit of Walking

You naturally feel better when your body releases the “feel-good” chemicals or endorphins. Endorphins reduce stress and improve mood and feelings of well-being. Regular exercise, like taking regular walks, can reduce stress. 

A brisk walk increases the oxygen flowing to your brain and body. This is a stress reliever with the added benefit of increased energy levels. The changes in scenery and exposure to nature are natural mood lifters as well. 

Walking encourages the walker to practice mindfulness, thus creating a break from worries as they focus on the present. The benefits of stress relief are readily observable and are a great way to improve mental and physical health. Taking a walk is an accessible, low-impact way to promote good health and reduce stress.

Lower Blood Pressure

Maintaining control of your blood pressure can mean reducing the chance of death due to cardiovascular disease by 25%. This is significant since deaths due to cardiovascular disease claim 1 out of 4 people in the United States. Walking reduces blood pressure, thus keeping the body considerably healthier. 

Walking Encourages Healing

Researchers have found that spinal surgery patients who are exposed to natural light experience less pain, stress and do not have to take as many medications while recovering. It was shown that the view of trees or a brick wall impacted the patient’s recovery. Conclusions can be inferred that exposure to the great outdoors can promote healing. 

Walking May Be What You Need to Be in a Better Mood

One of the best things about spending time outdoors is the mood lift it provides. Researchers have found that spending time in nature can decrease anxiety, depression, and anger while making us happier. A quick mood booster can be a game-changer for many people. Something as simple as a nice walk can provide great benefits.

Walking Does Not Cost a Thing

Walking is overlooked at times, but it is a free way to get the benefits of moderate exercise without having to join a gym. You can lace up your shoes, in most cases, and just step outside. There are plenty of reasons that taking a walk is good for your health, but there are some precautions you should take because it does come with its share of risks.

Walking Your Way to Sustainability

As discussed above, you may be walking to promote health and wellness or walking your way to a sustainable lifestyle. When you choose to walk rather than drive, you reduce your carbon footprint, which the whole planet appreciates. 

By walking, you reduce the number of cars in traffic and the number of vehicles fighting for parking spots. You save money on gas, vehicle maintenance, parking fees, and the headaches that accompany driving, all the while benefiting your health.

Safety Tips for Pedestrians

After discussing all the ways walking can improve your life, we hope you are already lacing up your sneakers and putting on your sunscreen. Before you take off, the pedestrian accident attorneys at Cannon & Dunphy S.C. have some tips for you that can reduce the risks of accidents or injuries. A few of these are listed below: 

  • Walk on the sidewalk if one is available. Not sharing the road with motorists improves your chances of staying safe. 
  • When there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic.  
  • Obey the rules of the road by following instructions on traffic signs and signals.
  • Use the crosswalk when crossing streets. No jaywalking! 
  • When crosswalks are unavailable, or you do not have a clear view of the road, move to a safer place with better visibility before crossing. Make sure there is no oncoming traffic.
  • Before crossing the street, look both ways, left, right, and left again. Make sure that oncoming vehicles are aware you are about to cross by checking in with them through eye contact or a wave. 
  • Remain alert by not using your cell phone or wearing headphones or earbuds while walking. 
  • Avoid drinking or using drugs when taking a walk. You will not be as dialed into your surroundings and could inadvertently put yourself in harm’s way.
  • Make sure other drivers can see you by wearing bright and reflective clothes. 
  • At night, carry a flashlight. It will be easier to avoid obstacles and allow other drivers to see you. 
  • Pay special attention to driveways where cars are entering and exiting. 
  • Have children under ten years old cross the street with a grown-up.

Put Your Phone in Your Pocket

Family walking down street holding hands; image by Hoi An Photographer, via
Family walking down street holding hands; image by Hoi An Photographer, via

Distracted drivers are not the only ones who get into trouble by using their mobile phones. Pedestrians who are on their telephones are more susceptible to accidents as well. By being distracted, you stand a bigger chance of being in a pedestrian accident than if you are focused on what you are doing. 

A recent study showed that teenagers were more likely to be hit by cars than children because of phone use while walking. You must pay attention when walking your path, to surrounding traffic, and to road conditions to avoid an accident. This is especially true and crosswalks and intersections.

More Tips to Avoid Injuries

Slip and fall accidents only occur when you are walking, so naturally, taking a walk can increase your chances of experiencing one. Here are some things walkers should take measures to protect themselves from:

  • Take care to pay attention to obstacles, uneven pavement, or roots and rocks that could be in your way on trails or sidewalks. Trip and fall injuries can end in bruises, sprains, lacerations, and fractures.
  • Plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and tendonitis can plague walkers who frequently walk long distances without practicing proper rest and recovery. Pay attention to your body and avoid overuse injuries.
  • Blisters are another common injury that walkers encounter. The friction between socks, shoes, and the skin can cause them to form, leading to discomfort and even pain. 
  • When spending time outdoors, we suggest you wear sunscreen and a hat to avoid sunburn and the increased risks of skin cancer due to sun exposure.
  • Stay hydrated when walking, especially in hot weather, or for extended periods of time. Fatigue, dizziness, and other health problems can occur when a pedestrian becomes too dehydrated.
  • Watch for cars, trucks, bikes, skateboarders, and anyone else you share the road with to avoid injury or even death.

Maximize Your Health While Minimizing Your Risks

By taking precautions, you can prevent injuries. Drink plenty of water, wear sunscreen, grab a hat, leave your phone in your pocket, and wear comfortable shoes to enjoy the benefits of a walk without injury. 

Walking can be a fantastic way to get around, reduce stress, improve health, and enjoy life. By taking simple precautions, being aware of your surroundings, and traveling on safe paths, you can remove many risks while enjoying all the benefits.

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