Pedestrians rarely come out on the winning end of a pedestrian-versus-vehicle encounter. As pedestrians, we can’t control drivers who are reckless or negligent. You may have been taught that pedestrians always have the right of way. However, don’t count on drivers always giving you that.
Nonetheless, there are a number of things that pedestrians can do to minimize their chances of being struck by a vehicle. Let’s look at some crucial steps recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that you can take to protect yourself when you’re getting around on foot.
Even though it’s not against the law in our state, it’s not wise. South Carolina law states that “every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than with a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway.”
It’s always safer to cross the street only at intersections and designated crosswalks and to obey all traffic signals that tell you when to walk or not. Of course, regardless of what the light says, look around before you step out onto the street.
Make eye contact
When you see a vehicle stopped at an intersection or crosswalk you’re about to cross, make eye contact with the driver. Ensure that the driver sees that you’re about to cross and isn’t distracted by a phone or someone else in the car.
Speaking of distractions, don’t engage in distracted walking. Even if you’re walking on the sidewalk, you should be paying attention to what’s ahead of and around you. This isn’t the time to be texting or checking your email.
Avoid dark areas
If you’re walking at night in an area that’s not well-lit, carry a flashlight. Don’t wear dark clothing. Wearing a brightly-colored jacket or one with reflective striping is a good idea as well.
Avoid walking in the street
If there’s a sidewalk, use it. If there isn’t, walk on the shoulder of the road, facing oncoming traffic.
When pedestrians are struck by vehicles, they can suffer severe and — too often — fatal injuries. If you’ve been injured by a driver or a loved one was killed, it’s essential to find out what your legal options are.
Despite whatever criminal penalties the driver may face, you may have a right to seek compensation via a civil lawsuit to help cover medical costs, lost wages, burial costs and other damages like pain and suffering.