Walking is great for your physical and mental health and a cheap way to get from A to B on short journeys. Each day many people enjoy walking to the shops, to school or work, or simply to get a bit of fresh air.
But pedestrians can be at great risk when walking on the nation’s pavements, particularly those alongside busy or particularly dangerous roads. According to official figures 21% of all traffic fatalities in the European Union are pedestrians, and most of these are people of 65 or over.
It is clear that pedestrians need to take steps to keep themselves as safe as possible when out walking and help to prevent accidents that could result in them getting injured.
It is vital that pedestrians can be seen at all times and this is especially important at night or in bad weather conditions. During winter or in heavy rain, fog or when it is dark, walkers should wear hi-vis clothing or reflective strips so they can be seen. Light-up armbands can also be used. The easiest way to ensure youngsters are always seen is to attach reflective stickers to their school backpack or coat.
Pedestrians have a responsibility to be aware of their surroundings and do what they can to keep themselves safe and prevent accidents. Walking while listening to music or talking on the phone can be a major distraction and, if it means that pedestrians are not concentrating, can result in accidents.
Think about whether you are putting yourself at risk and, if the answer is yes, do something about it! If there is no footpath then take extra care walking on the road. Walk facing oncoming traffic, except for when going round corners when you should walk with the direction of traffic. If walking on a grass verge or the edge of the road be careful of the surface – a fall into the road can be very dangerous. Stick to single file and have youngsters walk ahead of you.
If you do a lot of walking, particularly in the countryside or where there are no clear footpaths, it pays to educate yourself on the rules of the road. The Highway Code is for pedestrians as well as cyclists and motorists and has a lot of useful information and detailed rules on walking, crossing roads at designated points and so on.