Let’s walk safely out there, urges a Tamahere resident.
“As a walker and driver I am amazed at the number of people I see walking around Tamahere wearing dark clothes, without a torch, reflectors or “fluro” safety vests and apparently unaware of the safety code for walkers. I have had to take avoidance action on occasions, especially at night,” she said.
Her plea comes as the Waikato region road safety group urged care after five pedestrians died in the Waikato region over recent months, the most recent near Gordonton on July 12.
Waikato Regional Council travel behaviour change coordinator Jo Carling said these deaths were a solemn reminder of people’s vulnerability when walking on or near roads.
“Children and older people in particular are the most vulnerable to injury. Children tend to be more spontaneous in their movements and lack the ability to accurately judge vehicle speeds when crossing roads. Older people may not be fully mobile and may also suffer from impaired hearing or vision.
“Our winter road safety campaign has now entered its third month. The campaign encourages all road users to increase their visibility, especially at night or in adverse weather conditions,” Ms Carling said.
“Pedestrians and other vulnerable road users, such as those travelling on bicycles or motorbikes, can maximise their visibility by using lights and wearing reflective clothing during the day and at night.
“Pedestrians need to be aware of the immense danger they are in when crossing the road in between cars, or trying to beat traffic. It becomes even more dangerous when the pedestrian is wearing dark clothing.
“People should use footpaths and pedestrian crossings when they are available. On country roads, people should walk well back from the road on the road verges towards the oncoming traffic.”
The speed at which a vehicle hits a person can determine the outcome for that pedestrian.
“A pedestrian struck at 32 km/h has a 95 per cent chance of survival, but that survival rate drops to 55 per cent when struck by a car travelling at 48 km/h. At 70 km/h the likelihood of survival is virtually zero.”
Tips for safe walking.
Be Visible: Wear bright colours when walking in daytime. When walking at night, wear light-coloured clothing and reflective clothing or a reflective vest to be visible. Drivers are often not expecting walkers to be out after dark, and you need to give them every chance to see you. Be just as cautious at dawn or twilight, as drivers still have limited visibility or may even have the setting or rising sun directly in their eyes.
Walk Facing Traffic: Where there is no footpath and you must walk on the side of the road, choose the side where you are facing oncoming traffic. This gives you the best chance to see traffic approaching closest to you and take evasive action when needed.
Keep the Volume Down: Don’t drown out your environment with your iPod. Keep the volume at a level where you can still hear bike bells and warnings from other walkers and runners. Your audiologist will also thank you.
Walk Single File: Unless you are on a footpath separated from the road or a wide bike lane, you should walk in single file. This is especially important on a road with lots curves, where traffic has only a split second chance of seeing you. While it can be enjoyable to walk down the road two to three abreast chatting merrily, drivers don’t expect it and you don’t want to lose your best walking buddies.
Stay Aware of Bikes and Runners: Share the road and path with bikes and runners. Bike riders should alert you when approaching from behind with a bike bell or a “passing on the left/right.” Listen for them, and move to walk single file, allowing them to pass safely. Runners should also call out for passing. Bike-walker collisions can result in broken bones or head injury for either — and you aren’t wearing a helmet.
Cross Safely: Cars often zip along our country roads at speed. Remember those road crossing rules from childhood: look both ways before crossing any road. It keeps you safe and sets a good example to any watching children.
Be Predictable: Make a practice of staying on one side of the path while walking rather than weaving randomly from side to side. Watch your arm motions, or you may end up giving a black eye to a silently passing walker, runner or biker.
Hang Up and Walk: Chatting on a cell phone while you walk is as dangerous as chatting while driving. You are distracted and not as aware of your environment. You are less likely to recognize traffic danger, passing joggers and bikers or tripping hazards.
Walk Dogs on Short Leashes: Dogs can run out into traffic or get into a dog fight either off leash or on a very long leash. Don’t trip up other walkers or bikers with poor control of your pet. Keep your pet and yourself safe by learning proper leash walking.
Know When to Stop Walking: Heat sickness, dehydration, heart attack or stroke can strike walkers of any age. Learn the symptoms of medical emergencies and carry a cell phone to dial for help.