Pedestrian safety is always paramount

The National Safety Council warns that we rarely are more vulnerable than when walking in urban areas, crossing busy streets and negotiating traffic. And we all are pedestrians from time to time, so it’s important to pay attention to what is going on around us.

Those risks also come when walking in rural areas and especially at night.

How often have you driven along dark, poorly lit country roads only to be horribly startled when cresting a hill to find someone walking or riding a bicycle in your path.

It’s crucial that parents teach and constantly remind young children about the dangers that come with passing motorists, whether walking along area roadways or crossing the street.

A stark reminder of dangers that can come with youthful exuberance is when an 8-year-old boy was struck Monday morning by a passing Ford Econoline van as he walked to school on state Route 534 in rural Trumbull County. Investigators and witnesses said the boy had been attempting to cross the roadway and ran into the vehicle’s path. He and his books and lunch box were thrown into the air, seriously injuring the boy. He was taken by medical helicopter to a children’s hospital in Cleveland.

Kids will be kids, and they often forget. That’s why they must be taught, coached and reminded daily about dangers that exist.

Distracted walking incidents are on the rise. According to a Governors Highway Safety Association report, nearly 6,000 pedestrians were struck and killed by motor vehicles in 2017. That number mirrors 2016 fatalities. Total pedestrian deaths in 2016, both traffic- and nontraffic-related, were 7,330, according to Injury Facts.

While pedestrian-vehicle injuries are the fifth-leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 19, according to SafeKids.org, no age group is immune.

Increased cellphone usage is further raising that risk, and walking after dark always brings risks.

Here are a few tips from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and National Safety Council for children and adults of all ages:

• Look left, right and left again before crossing the street; looking left a second time is necessary because a car can cover a lot of distance in a short amount of time.

• Make eye contact with drivers of oncoming vehicles to make sure they see you.

• Be aware of drivers even when you’re in a crosswalk; vehicles have blind spots.

• Don’t wear headphones while walking.

• Never use a cellphone or other electronic device while walking.

• If your view is blocked, move to a place where you can see oncoming traffic.

• Never rely on a car to stop.

• Children younger than 10 should cross the street with an adult.

• Only cross at designated crosswalks.

• Walk in groups.

When it comes to pedestrians of any age moving along roadways at night, we urge them to wear bright-colored or reflective clothing. Further, we think it’s worth very serious consideration to supply area law enforcement with inexpensive fluorescent vests that they can provide to pedestrians upon request or that they come upon while traveling dark roadways.

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