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Is it safe to walk in Washington state?

When people think of the dangers of walking, they often imagine purse-snatchers, gang members or vicious dogs. While these hazards certainly exist, the truth is that the biggest threat to the safety of pedestrians is motorists. 

In fact, Washington state has seen a significant increase in pedestrian fatalities the last couple years, according to the Seattle Times. The speed and size of vehicles are no match for the human body, leading to severe injury and possibly death. Knowing the risk factors can help you to avoid getting in an accident while strolling down the street.

Risk factors

Being a pedestrian is normally safe, but certain factors make the activity more dangerous, including walking during dark hours (especially 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.) and winter months. Distracted, intoxicated or speeding drivers also increase the risk of injury or fatality. Likewise, distracted or intoxicated pedestrians and those not on a sidewalk contribute to their own decreased safety. Unfortunately, some factors you cannot control, such as gender and age. Males and middle-aged walkers are most at risk.

Safety precautions

Fortunately, there are measures you can take to reduce the odds of a driver striking you. These preventive steps are:

  • Following all traffic laws, including using sidewalks and crosswalks when available
  • Not using an electronic device while walking
  • Walking in daylight whenever possible
  • Wearing reflective clothes and using a flashlight when walking at night
  • Avoiding dangerous areas, construction zones and blind spots
  • Walking with others to increase your visibility to motorists
  • Not walking when drunk or cognitively impaired in any other way

Look up pedestrian laws if you are unfamiliar with them, such as when you have the right of way or where to cross when there is no crosswalk or intersection. Being aware of traffic rules and your surroundings are the two most effective ways to avoid getting into an accident and sustaining a severe injury.

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Magnuson Lowell PS

Law Offices of Magnuson Lowell P.S.
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