by Sarah Miller, MSN, RN-BC - Injury Prevention Coordinator, Trauma Services

As you know, we are all pedestrians at some point. Being distracted while walking in urban areas, crossing busy streets and negotiating traffic is as dangerous as while you are driving a car. It is important to pay attention to what is going on around us and anticipate what others may be doing on the roads.

Multiple factors can affect pedestrian safety. Cell phone distracted walking has accounted for so many injuries that it is now included on the statistical report on unintentional deaths and injuries published by the National Safety Council (NSC). More than half of the injuries happen at home and nearly 80% were due to a fall. Although many areas are working to become more walkable, pedestrian injuries related to traffic remain significant. According to Injury Facts 2015, 6,100 pedestrians were killed by motor vehicles in 2013. According to SafeKids.org pedestrian-vehicle injuries are the fifth leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 19. However, no age group is immune to this type of injury.

Prevention is the best solution for decreasing the number of pedestrian injuries. Some tips from the NSC for children and adults include:

  • Look left, right and left again before crossing the street; looking left a second time is necessary because a car can cover a lot of distance in a short amount of time
  • Make eye contact with drivers of oncoming vehicles to make sure they see you
  • Be aware of drivers even when you're in a crosswalk; vehicles have blind spots
  • Don't wear headphones while walking
  • Never use a cell phone or other electronic device while walking
  • If your view is blocked, move to a place where you can see oncoming traffic
  • Never rely on a car to stop
  • Children younger than 10 should cross the street with an adult
  • Only cross at designated crosswalks
  • Wear bright and/or reflective clothing
  • Walk in groups

Healthcare professionals at Orange Park Medical Center are always available to help you. In an emergency, call 9-1-1. You can be seen at either of our Emergency Departments – Park West FreeStanding Emergency Department or at our main campus. For safety resources and more information, visit http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/safety-knowledge.aspx.