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What is Defensive Walking?

Posted on November 14th, 2019

You have probably heard of defensive driving, but have you ever heard of defensive walking? Defensive driving has to do with anticipating what other drivers will do. Defensive walking is much the same – thinking ahead about what a driver will do that could cause you harm.

Pedestrians are the most vulnerable group of people in and around the roadways. When a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle, there is a high likelihood that they will be seriously injured. During the latest reporting year in Pennsylvania, there were more than 4,000 pedestrian accidents. Out of those incidents, there were 150 fatalities and 4,106 injuries.

How can you practice defensive walking and stay safe out there?

Street Crossing Tips

Intersections. Intersections should be places pedestrians can cross the street safely, but this is where pedestrians need to look in the most direction for vehicles.

  • How to approach this – Anticipate that a driver could run a red light. Even if you have a green walk light or signal, look all directions before stepping into the intersection. Make sure any approaching driver sees you; make eye contact with them.

Stepping off the curb. This is when a pedestrian may be difficult for a driver to see or expect, and there is little time for a pedestrian to react.

  • How to approach this – Check for cars coming from all directions before stepping off of a curb. Make eye contact with drivers, even if they appear to be slowing down for you.

Visual screens. If there is more than one lane of cars moving in the same direction, a car stopped in one lane can become a visual screen keeping a pedestrian from seeing oncoming cars in the other lane.

  • How to approach this – When crossing, stop when you come to the end of the first car and look to see if others are approaching in the other lane. Do not trust a driver to wave you through.

Crossing time at traffic signals. Many crossing signals do not give pedestrians much time to cross the road.

  • How to approach this – If you have not started crossing before the “Don’t Walk” sign starts flashing, stay there until you get the next walk signal. If you are in the middle of crossing when the “Don’t Walk” sign starts flashing, keep crossing the street. Call your local transportation department office and let them know about the inadequate crossing time.

Backing vehicle Safety in Parking Lots

There are times when a pedestrian can encounter a vehicle backing up:

  1. When a walkway crosses a driveway.
  2. When crossing between parked cars.
  3. In a parking lot.

Walking around vehicles that are reversing is incredibly dangerous for pedestrians. Drivers do not always look for pedestrians when they are backing up. Even those who have backup cameras may rely on the technology too much and not pay attention to their surroundings. Hybrid and electric cars may not be heard by a pedestrian because they are not as loud as traditional vehicles.

How to approach this – Try to walk as little as possible in areas where vehicles will be backing up. Look out for brake lights and listen for engine noises. If you have headphones in while in an area where cars could be backing up, take them out so you can be fully attuned to your surroundings.