In a world where self-driving cars and recreational trips to the moon are on the horizon, it’s hard to believe that pedestrians have a high risk of being injured when walking down the street.

Believe it or not, 2017 marked the second year of a 25-year high of pedestrian deaths. The Governors Highways Safety Association (GHSA) projected more than 6,000 pedestrian deaths were due to motor vehicle accidents in the United States in 2017 alone.

So, what does this mean for you and your loved ones? It means now, more than ever, it’s crucial to learn how to walk defensively.

What Does it Mean to Walk Defensively?

Walking defensively means walking in a manner that identifies and evaluates all possible situations that increase the risk of being injured, especially situations involving motor vehicles. Defensive walking also includes taking proactive steps to help mitigate the likelihood of being injured and responding to situations in an effective, protective manner. 

Even cities deemed walkable by WalkScore pose a high danger risk for pedestrians and implore pedestrians to be cautious. 

How to Become a Defensive Walker

Put Your Phone Down

As tempting as it is to use your phone while you walk, it’s more important to be alert of the environment around you. Whatever phone call you need to take or text you need to send can wait until you have arrived safely at your destination or are able to move to a location distant from automobiles or any other imminent threat. 

Trust Yourself, Not the Driver

Trust your instincts over the drivers behind the wheel. If it might be a close call to cross the street, don’t push it; being a few minutes late to your destination is worth much more than experiencing severe or fatal injuries. Rely on yourself, not the driver to slam on his/her brakes.

Take Off Your Headphones

Listening to music is an enjoyable pastime, but doing so while walking down the street as a pedestrian is not the time nor the place. Keeping your ears and eyes alert while crossing an intersection can help you identify dangerous situations and react proactively.

Look, and Look Again

Do a double take! Cars move swiftly, so always remember to look twice; it could save your life. The car you spotted a mile down the road could be moving much quicker than initially expected.

Cross at Designated Crosswalks

Jaywalking may be a convenient option, but it’s not a safe one. Taking the extra few minutes to use a crosswalk and can significantly help lower your risk of a pedestrian accident. Plus, who doesn’t love a few extra minutes of being outside?

Bring a Friend

Walking in groups increases pedestrian visibility, especially for children. If possible, walk with a friend or create a walking club!

Dress to Impress

Reflective or bright clothing can help drivers identify you and are encouraged when walking at night. Carrying a flashlight can also help visibility and mitigate slip, trip, and fall accidents by helping you identify any uneven surfaces.

Make Eye Contact with Drivers

Locking eyes with oncoming drivers can help you evaluate how safe it is to cross and confirm they are aware of your presence. It’s not creepy, it’s your safety!

If Walking Defensively Has Failed

Walking defensively will help mitigate all pedestrian risks, but sometimes, life happens, and a driver can make an unexpected move. If you are struck by a vehicle, the first thing to do is try your best to stay calm. 

Move yourself to a safe location away from oncoming traffic, call the police, and get medical assistance. Even if you feel fine, it’s best to call for medical help as some injuries aren’t readily apparent. While you wait for the police to arrive, take pictures, exchange contact information with the driver, and talk to any witnesses. Gathering this information can help strengthen your insurance claim!

The next step is to contact a qualified injury lawyer for a free consultation. A lawyer can help you secure the financial compensation you deserve from the perpetrator and/or the insurance company if you are injured in a pedestrian accident.