OLYMPIA – Winter weather and shorter daylight hours make it harder for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists to see each other, and the end of daylight saving time Nov. 7 marks a time for everyone to be more cautious.
This is the time of year when the number of crashes involving pedestrians has gone up, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). Of the 62 pedestrian fatalities reported in 2009, nearly one-third (18) of them occurred during November and December.
Here are some tips to help all road users reduce the risk of being involved in a collision:
· Stop at intersections for people walking (all intersections are crosswalks, unless posted).
· Do not pass another vehicle stopped for a pedestrian at a crosswalk.
· Drive the posted speed limit or below as weather and road conditions necessitate.
· Pay special attention near schools, recreation areas and senior centers.
· Don’t drive under the influence.
· Don’t drive while using electronic equipment or other distracters.
· Be a predictable driver by following the rules of the road.
Pedestrians and bicyclists
· Be seen – wear bright or reflective outerwear, use lights at night, and whenever possible choose routes that are lighted, especially at intersections.
· Make eye contact with the driver before crossing – know that the driver is aware of your presence.
· Keep hats, hoods, helmets and umbrellas clear of your vision.
· Walk on sidewalks and trails when they are available, and if not, walk on the edge of the road facing traffic.
· Bicycle in bike lanes, shoulders and trails whenever possible, otherwise bike on the far right side of the road in the direction of traffic.
· Stop at the edges of driveways, alleys and curbs or edges of the street where no curb exists and look left, right, and left again for vehicles before walking across.
· Parents should also teach smaller children to cross at least 10 feet in front of school buses or other large vehicles.
WSDOT is working to increase safety for pedestrians and bicyclists by:
· Working with schools to develop school walk and bike route plans.
· Providing information about walking and biking to the public.
· Researching bicycle and pedestrian issues.
· Working with local communities to improve conditions for biking and walking through design assistance.
· Conducting bicycle and pedestrian related trainings and workshops.
· Funding pedestrian and bicycle safety projects.
For more information about WSDOT efforts to improve conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists see the Washington State Bicycle Facilities and Pedestrian Walkways Plan at http://wsdot.wa.gov/bike/bike_plan.htm
Additional information and safety tips can be found by visiting these Web sites:
WSDOT Pedestrian Safety Tips http://wsdot.wa.gov/walk/safety.htm
WSDOT Bicycle Safety Tips http://wsdot.wa.gov/bike/safety.ht