New Year’s Eve is here, and a lot of us celebrate the occasion by going out – which means there will be plenty of revelers on the street, both in cars and on foot. Don’t let the excitement of the festive season cloud your judgment when it comes to being safe, though. We’ve outlined some important things to keep in mind when you’re walking or driving at this (and any) time of year.
First, let’s cover some of the rules you should follow as a pedestrian (because let’s face it – walkers are more vulnerable than drivers, so it’s in your interest to be extra careful).
Make yourself visible. Wintertime is especially treacherous for pedestrians because it gets dark much earlier, making it harder for drivers to see people on the road. If you’re walking after sunset, wear bright colors or reflective clothing if at all possible; you can also use the flashlight on your phone if you need to.
Don’t take short cuts. Stick to sidewalks and marked crossings at all times, even if it takes you longer to get where you’re going. It’s not worth risking your life to save a few minutes here or there. If there isn’t a sidewalk or a crosswalk where you’re walking, keep to the edge of the road and face traffic.
Turn down (or off) the sound. Listening to your favorite music or podcast while you’re out on a stroll is an enjoyable pastime, but it’s not a wise decision if you’re on a busy road with a lot of cars. You need to be able to hear what’s going on around you and be alert to potential threats from cars in any direction.
Look left and right (and left again). Just because you’re at a crosswalk doesn’t mean a driver is going to stop for you. Look left, right and left again before entering a crosswalk; if there are oncoming cars in either direction, wait until they’ve come to a full stop before you take a step. Making eye contact with the driver is another good idea – that way you know they’ve seen you.
Drivers have a big part to play in making sure the roads are safe. Here are some important rules for motorists:
Come to a full stop at every red light. We’ve all been guilty at one point or another of turning right on a red light without fully stopping beforehand. But Maryland law requires vehicles to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk on red lights (as well as on green lights, of course). If you’re too busy paying attention to oncoming traffic from your left, you might miss the fact that people are crossing the street on your right.
Be patient. Even if you think you’re close enough to “sneak through” a pedestrian crossing before people approach it, stop and wait for them. You never know if those pedestrians might try to pick up the pace themselves and jog across, figuring that you will brake for them.
Expect the unexpected. Pedestrians are supposed to stick to crosswalks and sidewalks, but they don’t always follow the rules – especially if they have been drinking. They may try to cross the street diagonally or run across a part of the road that isn’t specifically marked for crossing. Keep an eye out and don’t assume anything.
Stay alert. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but driving tired (or distracted) can be just as dangerous. If you find yourself unable to stay awake, pull over in a safe place and call a friend (or an Uber or Lyft) to take you where you need to go. And avoid texting or talking on the phone while you’re driving.
If you’ve been involved in a pedestrian accident, a lawyer can help you determine the best course of action. Choose an attorney with experience in these types of cases, who will work to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Need legal help? Contact the Law Offices of Nicholas Parr in Baltimore, MD today to schedule your free consultation. We don’t receive a fee unless we win.