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Spring is a good time to keep pedestrian safety top of mind

The weather is starting to warm up and that means more people will walk to school or work, or just go for a leisurely stroll. Whether you are on foot or driving around town, everyone is responsible for pedestrian safety.

“Drivers and pedestrians have a responsibility to be safe,” said Pima Association of Governments’ Transportation Safety Program Coordinator Gabe Thum.

The following safety tips can be used by pedestrians and drivers to improve safety:

Pedestrians

  • Be aware of your surroundings – Many walkers like to listen to music or podcasts, but headphones and cell phones can distract and reduce your ability to hear traffic.
  • Be visible to motorists – At night, wear bright-colored, reflective clothing and even consider carrying lights.
  • Assume that drivers may not stop – A marked crosswalk does not ensure your safety. Make sure that all vehicles are stopped before entering the crosswalk and crossing each lane.

Drivers

  • Slow Down – Speed matters. Not only is your ability to react better at slower speeds, but so are the chances of pedestrian survival. Slow down and save a life.
  • Don’t text and drive – Cell phones distract and reduce your ability to operate your motor vehicle effectively.
  • Don’t pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks – When coming up alongside stopped or stopping vehicles, be prepared to stop for pedestrians who are walking in marked or unmarked crosswalks.
  • Yield to pedestrians at marked and unmarked crosswalks – Pedestrians have the legal right to cross a roadway at all intersections. On multi-lane roadways, if you come too close to a pedestrian, you may block the next driver from seeing the pedestrian as he or she crosses the roadway.
  • Yield to pedestrians when making turns – Always watch for pedestrians, and scan crosswalks and make sure they are clear before turning.

Other efforts to improve pedestrian safety include safety improvements through the Regional Transportation Authority projects. All RTA projects provide adequate street lighting to aid in visibility and improved access to aid those with physical limitations to navigate intersections.

The RTA has also funded signalized pedestrian crossings, also known as HAWK beacons (High-Intensity Activated crossWalK beacons) that allow pedestrians to cross the road safely.

“They are very effective at facilitating the crossing of pedestrians for larger roadways,” Thum said. The region has approximately 140 HAWK beacons, many funded by the RTA.