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How Pedestrians Can Protect Themselves

Pedestrians are at risk every time they tie their shoelaces and venture outside. In fact, about 66,000 got hurt in 2013, and nearly 5,000 died, according to information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Drivers should do many things to keep pedestrians-and themselves-safe, but if you are on foot, you can help, too. Here's how.

Stay off the cellphone

Ever heard of distracted walking? Now you have. It is the counterpart to distracted driving. When you walk distracted, you become less in tune with your surroundings. You might still take cursory safety measures-glancing up before crossing a street, for example-but you are definitely distracted. You could walk into a wall or never see a car coming. Thus, you miss a small window of time to jump out of the way.

Heighten your visibility

Drivers are more likely to hit you if they cannot see you. Take the case of intoxicated drivers; if you wear reflective clothing while walking at night, they may see you from farther away and avoid you. On the other hand, if they do not see you until it is too late, you could experience brain and bone injuries after being hit.

Being visible at any time of the day is important and involves more than wearing bright colors. For example, avoid darting out from behind parked cars even if it is noon.

Match the conditions

When it snows, you decrease your risk of falling on snow or ice if you wear boots with good tread or if you don shoe add-ons such as Yaktrax. Of course, it is always possible that you will fall on a sneaky patch of ice or did not know a floor was slippery.

Stick to designated routes

Sidewalks are designed for pedestrians, so when feasible, use them instead of the streets. Be selective about the times in which you venture into the roadways, such as when ice or snow covers sidewalks. In such scenarios, stick well to the shoulder and face traffic. Likewise, follow established crossing lanes. Jaywalking means that you cross when a car may not be expecting you to. At night, try to walk in well-lit areas.

Safety on the roads is not just the responsibility of drivers, although they carry much of the load. Motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians must do their share, too. If you have been out walking and were hit, you may experience medical and financial difficulties. Getting in touch with a lawyer may help you understand the options for compensation.