What You Need to Know About Winter Pedestrian Safety

Freezing Temperatures can be Hazardous for Pedestrians

We often talk about pedestrian-vehicle accident risks in relation to negligent motorists. In other words, when drivers of motor vehicles are distracted or driving aggressively, they can strike a pedestrian and can cause serious or fatal injuries. Many pedestrian accidents and injuries also happen due to dangerous sidewalks and crosswalks in urban areas. According to a local CBS News report, winter driving safety tips should also take into account pedestrians who could be at risk of serious personal injury accidents from icy roads and inclement weather.

As the report underscores, winter weather is not just a danger for drivers. Pedestrians can be at greater risk of accidents and injuries during the winter months. In some situations, inclement weather creates particularly hazardous road conditions for motor vehicle drivers, which can increase the risk of a pedestrian-motor vehicle accident or collision. For example, when a driver hits a patch of black ice, he or she may lose control of the vehicle and strike a pedestrian on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk. Winter weather can also bring snow and “high snow banks, creating obstructed views for both vehicle operators and pedestrians.” When drivers cannot see pedestrians crossing the street, or if a pedestrian does not see an oncoming vehicle due to a snowbank, the results can be devastating.

In addition to pedestrian-motor vehicle accidents, they can also be at increased risk of slip and fall injuries when winter weather and freezing temperatures occur. According to a news release from Broome County, “snowy sidewalks and icy streets can turn a safe stroll into a dangerous activity.” That news release explains, “many injuries result from falls on slippery surfaces.”

A  Slip and fall injury is not the only problems with icy sidewalks. When sidewalks have not been cleared and seem impassable, pedestrians may have to step into the street, which can also increase the risk of a collision with a motor vehicle.

Safety Tips for Safe Winter Walking

What can you do to stay safe as a pedestrian during winter weather? An article in Your Health Matters and the Broome County news release recommend the following safety tips:

  • Do not walk and talk on your cell phone, and do not text while walking;
  • Wear clothes that make you visible to drivers during daytime and nighttime, such as bright and/or reflective items;
  • Wear footwear with good grips that can reduce your chances of slipping and falling;
  • Give yourself more time to get to your destination when walking in the winter months so that you do not slip and fall as a result of walking too quickly;
  • Take slower steps when walking on snowy or icy parts of the ground;
  • Do not carry heavy items that could result in you losing your balance while you are walking;
  • Only cross the street at marked intersections or areas with crosswalks;
  • Follow traffic signs and signals;
  • Try to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street;
  • Always look ahead and in the direction you are traveling;
  • If you need to walk in the street, ensure that you walk in a direction facing traffic and remain as close to the curb as possible; and
  • Ensure that your winter hat and scarf do not prevent you from hearing sounds around you.

If you were injured in a pedestrian accident, contact a pedestrian accident lawyer to determine your rights.

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