Pedestrian Safety in Cold Weather

When it’s cold outside, people drive worse than they did before. If you’re a pedestrian, you need to take extra precautions during the cold weather and, if you’re driving, you need to keep an extra eye out for pedestrians who are even harder to see, especially if snow is lowering your visibility. Safety is always paramount, but it’s especially important to walk and drive defensively when it is cold and possibly snowy and icy out. Here are some guidelines to avoid being involved in a cold weather pedestrian accident.

Visibility is Key

Visibility is going to be the number one thing that prevents a potential accident – if attentive drivers can see you, they’ll be sure to avoid you and hopefully slow down for you. You can increase your visibility by:

  • Wearing bright clothing whenever possible
  • Wearing high-visibility or reflective clothing or accessories to keep people aware of your presence
  • It is also feasible to wear blinking lights like you might find on a bike to make your presence undeniable

Don’t Walk on Streets

Whenever you can, walk on the sidewalk to prevent any accidents that could occur from a small bad decision on a driver’s part, or from the inevitable patch of snow or ice.

  • If you’re stuck with no choice but to walk on a roadway, be sure to walk facing traffic, as far to the left as you can – it increases visibility of you and the cars
  • Wear good, non-slip boots to avoid slipping and falling, so that you don’t find yourself falling into a roadway or victim to some other accident

Walk Defensively

It is your responsibility as a pedestrian to stay safe, and since you can’t control the cars around you, you need to walk defensively, and safely. Using crosswalks and following lights and street signs is a must.

  • Watch for any vehicles before you step out from behind a snowbank – they may not be able to see you, and vice versa
  • Only cross at crosswalks and intersections – make eye contact with drivers before stepping in the street
  • Protect yourself by staying aware and not wearing headphones. Listening to music or podcasts while you walk can be nice, but you may run the risk of not hearing vehicles or other potential dangers
  • Don’t assume vehicles will do the right thing – many accidents are caused by drivers breaking the law or skirting some “small” law – assume they are going to drive poorly, and stay aware and attentive during your walk

Pedestrian Safety Tips for Drivers

Your job as a driver is to get from A to B while protecting everyone around you – including both your passengers and pedestrians. Pedestrians almost universally have right of way, but also – they aren’t in giant metal boxes – they don’t stand a chance, so look out for them.

  • Slow down anywhere a pedestrian can cross
  • Slow down when it is snowy and icy
  • Sunglasses are okay in the winter, too – snow can cause intense glare, causing an accident

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