Drivers and pedestrians: always make eye contact

This content is sponsored by Metropolitan Police Department

Summer in the District means more kids outside playing and more tourists and pedestrians out on the streets. It’s really important for drivers and pedestrians to be aware of each other and their surroundings and to always make eye contact with each other.

D.C. is a sightseeing town and tourist traffic increases significantly in the Summer months. This combined with more kids being out because schools are closed makes it extra important for drivers and pedestrians to look out for each other.  The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) will be enforcing traffic safety laws to keep everyone safe while on the roads.

In 2016, 5,987 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States. This averages to one crash-related pedestrian death every 1.5 hours, based on stats from the CDC. One in every five children under the age of 15 who were killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians in 2016.

Additionally, almost 129,000 pedestrians were treated in emergency departments for non-fatal crash-related injuries in 2015. Pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to be killed in a car crash on each trip.

Safety is shared a responsibility. Drivers need to stay alert and keep their eyes open for pedestrians.  Make sure to slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or approaching a crosswalk. Drivers must always yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and stop several feet from the crosswalk to make sure other cars can see crossing pedestrians.

Drivers should be more attentive when driving in difficult-to-see conditions, especially at night or in bad weather. Pedestrians dressed in dark colored clothing can be very hard to see in these conditions.

A good rule of thumb is to look well ahead, especially in urban areas, and move your eyes from sidewalk to sidewalk to make sure that you are able to see any pedestrians getting ready to cross the street.

Keep in mind the speed limit, especially around highly populated areas. Follow slower speed limits in neighborhoods, where children could be present. Make sure to avoid distractions while driving, especially your phone. And always try to make eye contact with pedestrians crossing in front of you.

In addition to following the rules of the road, pedestrians must also be mindful of distractions. As a pedestrian, your eyes and ears are your best tools for staying safe. Be sure to put down your phone. Talking on the phone or texting take your eyes off of the road and distract you from staying alert. And always try to make eye contact with drivers. Stay alert, watch out and enjoy your Summer in DC.

Here are some safety tips for drivers to make sure everyone stays safe on our roads this Summer:

  • Drivers and pedestrians should always make eye contact.
  • Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods
  • Take extra time to look for pedestrians at intersections, on medians and on curbs
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully
  • Watch for children on and near the road during daytime hours
  • Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings
  • Always yield to pedestrians in crosswalks or waiting to cross in a crosswalk.

Here are some safety tips for pedestrians to make sure everyone stays safe on the District roads this Summer:

  • Drivers and pedestrians should always make eye contact.
  • Cross at corners and intersections. Use marked crosswalks when possible.
  • Before crossing look left, right, then left again.
  • Use the pedestrian buttons and begin crossing the street on the “Walk” signal.
  • Watch out for vehicles turning right on red.
  • Eliminate all distractions, like your cell phone, while walking.

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