By Aaron Medina | NC State Coordinator & National Program Manager
While October is a month for spooky and fun celebrations, it is also pedestrian safety month. For many adults and people outside of schools, pedestrian safety can often go overlooked. Yet, over six thousand US pedestrians died in 2019, according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Particularly on a weekend of trick-or-treating dedicated to navigating communities, it is crucial to maintain awareness of pedestrian safety to enjoy Halloween safely!
Here are some simple tips for families to enhance their safety this weekend. NHTSA recommends pedestrians always use a “buddy system” and utilize sidewalks and crosswalks whenever possible. Safe Kids Worldwide suggests that when there are no crosswalks, walk on the left side of the road as far as possible to see oncoming traffic and have flashlights, reflective tape, or other illuminating objects to be better seen at night. SADD also implores families to not just drive without distractions but not to walk and text. Even if you are safely walking on sidewalks, it is essential to be aware of others, including reckless drivers, to maintain your safety.
Whether from varying investments in infrastructure or ware through time, some communities may be easier to walk in than others. One NC SADD student-member, Sofia, in Charlotte, NC, did a “pedestrian walkabout” to see how to improve pedestrian safety in her community. In one area, she noted that “If there were any sidewalks, they were only on one side of the road, and they were cracked or blocked. It wasn’t safe to cross the streets because there weren’t enough crosswalks, so people would j-walk all over the place, risking the danger of being hit by oncoming traffic. Drivers weren’t yielding to pedestrians, they were driving way too fast and running red lights left and right.” Observations like this are not just important to be aware of for Halloween, but year-round. There are ways citizens can help improve their community’s pedestrian safety. Sofia shared some of her observations with the Charlotte Department of Transportation Services, who promptly responded to her inquiry to examine areas that needed repairs. NHTSA has resources online to help improve a community’s “walkability” at https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/pedestrian-safety. Please visit the sources below to learn more and walk this and every weekend safely!