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Road Safety 101: Pedestrian Safety on the Streets of Detroit

For this installment of "Road Safety 101: A Weekly Guide to Staying Safe on the Road," we look at pedestrian accidents. Anyone who walks, runs, jogs, hikes, stands or sits on or alongside the roads of Detroit runs the risk of being injured or killed in a car accident. But it doesn't have to happen to you.

If you are reasonably alert and avoid activities that increase your risk, walking down a city street should not put you in any danger from passing motor vehicles.

Across Michigan in 2014, there were 2,208 car accidents involving pedestrians, which resulted in 148 pedestrians and 1 driver killed, and 1,962 pedestrians, 74 drivers, 37 passengers, and five motorcyclists injured, according to Michigan State Police. Sixty-five of the pedestrian accidents reported involved a truck or bus.

In Wayne County (Detroit) alone, there were 718 pedestrian accidents, resulting in 54 deaths (36 percent of the state's total) and 626 people injured (30 percent).

What the numbers don't say, a report released in October 2014 does: Detroit is the most dangerous big city in the U.S. for pedestrians. The Detroit CBS station, which published that report, also has reports about several recent pedestrian accidents.

Tips for Detroit Pedestrians to Avoid Accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which provide national statistics about pedestrian accidents, also provide safety tips. They include:

  • Stay out of the street. It is much safer to walk on a sidewalk. If there's no sidewalk, stay on the shoulder of the road. Always walk facing traffic.
  • Stay alert. Distracted walking can be as dangerous as distracted driving. Anything that keeps you from watching where are going is a potentially deadly distraction - texting or talking on the phone, talking or playing with companions, eating, loud music, etc. Many people die because they step off of the curb and into the path of a car.
  • Walk where you're expected. Cross the street at intersections, preferably in crosswalks and with crossing signals and traffic lights. This is where drivers expect to see pedestrians in the road. If you must cross mid-block, don't emerge from between vehicles or other obstacles that hide you until you are in a lane of traffic.
  • Stand out at night. Carry a flashlight (or the light of your phone) so you show up to drivers after dark and/or wear reflective material. Be extra cautious crossing roads at night.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs. Being impaired makes you less coordinated and slower to react. It also impairs your vision and judgement.

Steps Detroit Drivers Can Take To Avoid Pedestrian Accidents

  • Expect to see pedestrians. Motorists must share the road with pedestrians, though they may not always be where they should be. Particularly at night, dawn or dusk, and in bad weather, slow down and actively scan ahead to spot pedestrians. Remember that a pedestrian's vision may be obscured by an umbrella or hat in rain, or a hood or hat in cold weather.
  • Be ready to stop. Whether at an intersection or mid-block, you must yield for a pedestrian crossing the street or in the street. Even though they are out of the crosswalk, once they're in the street, let a pedestrian cross.
  • Never pass at an intersection. When approaching an intersection, be aware that cars in adjacent lanes ahead could be obscuring pedestrians about to walk into your vehicle's path. If a car has stopped, be sure you can see directly in front of it before pulling ahead.
  • Be aware of children's play areas. Particularly in neighborhoods and near schools, day care centers, parks and playgrounds, slow down. Keep a closer eye on areas where cars are parked alongside the road. Children can dart out into the street in an instant from between cars or out of a driveway or alley, leaving you no time or room to stop if you are going too fast.
  • Avoid recklessness. Speeding, distracted driving, drunk and drugged driving, running stop signs, improper passing - all of the types of reckless driving that can cause an accident can cause you to run into or over an innocent man, woman or child. You don't have to put yourself in that situation.