It might not ever be possible to eliminate one hundred percent of traffic fatalities. As long as there are humans and vehicles to interact with them, there is danger. However, there are plenty of actions both drivers and pedestrians can take to lessen the chances of traffic accidents.
In this article, we’ll talk about what you can do as a driver that makes a pedestrian-related accident or fatality less likely. You never want to hit or injure someone with your car, and these are common-sense actions you can take that are not difficult at all.
In New York City, the traffic fatality rate was alarmingly high at one point. There are tons of cars in New York and just as much foot traffic.
Bill De Blasio, New York’s mayor, decided to implement his so-called “Vision Zero” plan back in 2014. He based it on a Swedish model that seemed to serve that country well. The plan called for 50% fewer traffic fatalities by 2025.
So far, New York’s steps seem to be helping. Over four years, there have been fewer pedestrian accidents and deaths.
One way you can follow New York’s example is by slowing down. When you do so, you make it easier to stop in time if someone jumps out into the street unexpectedly.
If you obey the speed limit, you increase the chances that you can stop in time if a car ahead of you slams on the brakes. That happens a lot on the highway, and you don’t want to rear-end the vehicle in front of you. By slowing down, you’re doing yourself a favor, not to mention the other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians all around you.
Don’t Let Anything Distract You
Distracted driving is dangerous driving. There are many things that can take your attention off the road. You might be deep in a conversation with the person in the passenger’s seat next to you, and you might hit a pedestrian if you’re not looking at the road ahead when they try to dart across.
Your smartphone might distract you, or perhaps you are trying to change the radio station at that moment. A billboard may distract you, or maybe you have some food you’re trying to eat as you drive.
Don’t do anything while you’re driving except look at the road ahead. If you do need to change the radio station or adjust the car’s temperature, make sure you stop at a red light before you do it. You should also not eat or use your phone until you have stopped the vehicle and turned off the engine.
Don’t Drive Angry
You can also significantly lessen the chances that you’ll hit someone if you try not to drive angry from now on. Many drivers admit that road rage is a problem for them. That might involve yelling at other drivers, speeding up and gesturing at them, or even pulling over to try and take a swing at someone who cut you off in traffic.
Anger can build up inside you, and many different things can cause it. You might argue with a loved one before driving, or maybe you feel like your boss passed you over for a promotion. Perhaps you’re not angry about any one thing, but several factors that are contributing to your overall bad mood.
If you drive angry, that makes you more aggressive. It makes accidents more likely, and a pedestrian might be the victim if you let things reach that point.
Make sure you have calmed down sufficiently before you get behind the wheel and start the engine. Take some deep, calming breaths before you drive. If you feel like that hasn’t put you in the right mind frame, you might even walk around a little bit before driving to wherever you need to go.
Don’t Drive in Bad Weather
You might also decide not to drive if the weather is bad. Maybe it’s snowing heavily, or there is a violent rainstorm going on. It could be hailing or sleeting as well.
If so, you can decide to wait until a better time to drive if you’re not going somewhere very urgent. If you wait, it will probably be better both for you and the pedestrians and other cars that are out there.
If you need to drive, like if you’re going to work, for instance, slow down, and make sure to use your lights and windshield wipers. By doing so, you will let any pedestrians know that you’re coming. You can also stick to local roads rather than taking the highway since that will force you to go slower than you otherwise would.
Don’t Make Unsafe Turns or Lane Changes
You will make hitting a pedestrian less likely if you avoid making any unsafe turns. An unsafe turn might be one that is legal, but it’s not necessarily safe because something has obstructed your vision.
These turns can prove deadly for pedestrians if you’re not careful. Maybe you try to accelerate through a light when pedestrians are trying to use the crosswalk. Another vehicle or something else may temporarily block you from seeing what’s around you.
If you’re an experienced driver, you will learn to recognize these unsafe turns, and you won’t make them. The ones that you particularly need to watch out for happen when you’re cutting across several lanes of traffic on a busy thoroughfare.
If you do all of these things, you’ll probably avoid hitting any pedestrians, and that’s the best possible outcome for both them and you. Cyclists and those who choose to walk where there is traffic also have a right to the road, provided they follow all applicable laws.
If you drive recklessly or carelessly, that’s when you risk striking someone, and you will probably regret that for as long as you live. You can save a life by thinking ahead and realizing when you’re driving in a dangerous way.