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Pedestrians in harm's way

If walking is part of your day, whether for transportation, health or enjoyment, you may sometimes feel as if you are invisible to motorists. Even when you use the crosswalks and obey pedestrian signs, you may not be completely safe. You can likely recount many close calls with motorists along your daily walk.

By the time you finish reading this, three pedestrians will seek medical treatment for injuries related to an accident with a motor vehicle. One person may die. If you are between the ages of 15 and 29, you have a greater chance of ending up in the emergency room with injuries from a pedestrian versus vehicle accident. Sadly, the older you get, the higher the probability that you will die from your injuries. Thousands of pedestrians are injured and die each year from traffic accidents that are largely preventable.

Protecting yourself

When you are walking, there are precautions you can take to keep yourself safer. Obviously, you can't depend on drivers to look out for your safety and well-being, so you have to be proactive, and that may include making changes in your routine, such as these:

  • Always using crosswalks or intersections to cross the street
  • Staying on the sidewalk whenever possible
  • Facing traffic if you must walk on the shoulder
  • Keeping out of the travel lanes of the street
  • Wearing reflective clothing and carrying a flashlight if you walk at night
  • Avoiding walking near traffic after you have been drinking alcohol

Like many in Illinois, you probably enjoy listening to your playlist or an audio book while you are getting your steps in. However, this is one of the most dangerous things you can do when you are exposed to traffic. Not only does it prevent you from hearing danger approaching, but it may distract you from your surroundings enough to cause you to take a fatal step.

Seeking the help you need

The damage a motor vehicle can do to an unprotected pedestrian is catastrophic. Pedestrian accidents often lead to spinal cord injuries, damage to internal organs, traumatic brain injuries and multiple severe fractures. These injuries can be life-changing, resulting in mounting medical bills, lost wages and the need for expensive, ongoing care. Such accidents may also be life-ending, leaving loved ones with the cost of a funeral and other end-of-live expenses, as well as the grief of losing a loved one.

Protecting yourself while walking may not be enough if drivers fail to notice or respect you while you walk. You may find yourself facing a painful and difficult future in need of guidance and assistance on your road to recovery.

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