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Approximately 1,000 pedestrians are killed in traffic accidents in the United States annually with thousands more injured.  Pedestrian deaths in New Jersey totaled 169 last year after a record low in 2013.  Pedestrian accidents are a major concern throughout the United States.  In New Jersey, they account for over 20% of traffic deaths in a year.  Planners and traffic experts generally blame the Garden State’s high pedestrian death count on population density, an aging population, a dearth of sidewalks and the fact that a weak economy has encouraged more people to use their feet instead of their cars.

Many pedestrian accidents occur due to driver negligence such as disregarding traffic signals and walkways, cell phone use and other distractions, and impairment from alcohol and drugs.  Following are some important safety reminders for pedestrians:

  • Walk on a sidewalk or path whenever one is available.
  • If a sidewalk or path is not available, walk facing traffic. Keep alert at all times and don’t be distracted by electronics.
  • Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections whenever possible.
  • Stay off freeways, restricted-access highways and other pedestrian-prohibited roadways.
  • Wear bright clothing during the day and wear reflective materials or use a flash light at night.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking.

Drivers should be looking out for pedestrians at all times.  They should always slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or entering a crosswalk.  Speed limits should be followed especially in school zones and in neighborhoods where there are children present.  And, never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) reports, “a pedestrian is killed every two hours and injured every seven minutes in traffic crashes.”  This amounts to an alarming problem for those who walk every day to or from work and carry out other daily activities on foot.

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