Walking can be deadly when the rules of the road are disregarded by pedestrians

Nov. 17
November 17, 2009
Mr. Heath Adam Perkins
November 19, 2009

Dear Editor:

Most parents teach their children to be aware of vehicles when they’re playing near a street or riding a bike, but there is less general awareness of the fact that most pedestrians killed on Louisiana roads are adults. In fact, in 2008 only 7 percent of all pedestrians killed in Louisiana were 14 years old or younger.

Over the past five years 529 pedestrians have been killed in Louisiana. In 2008, 110 pedestrians were killed, which accounted for 12 percent of all traffic fatalities in Louisiana. On top of these deaths, 1,174 pedestrians were injured last year. Males accounted for 73 percent of the pedestrian fatalities in Louisiana in 2008. Louisiana ranked fourth in the nation in pedestrian deaths in 2007 when measured by states’ population.

Alcohol plays a major role in pedestrian deaths because it can impair a person’s judgment. In 2008, alcohol was a factor in more than one-third of pedestrian deaths in Louisiana.

Pedestrian fatalities are also a national problem. A pedestrian is killed in a traffic crash in the United States every 113 minutes and one is injured every eight minutes. In 2007 – the most recent year for which national traffic data is available – 4,654 pedestrians died in traffic crashes.

Pedestrians can take measures to ensure their own safety and the safety of others. These include walking on the sidewalk or facing traffic if required to walk in the street, using caution crossing or entering a street, helping drivers see you at night by wearing reflective or bright colored clothes, and remaining sober.

Parents should teach their young children safety habits because kids often do not pay attention, cannot accurately judge vehicle speeds and distances, and may make unpredictable movements, such as dashing suddenly across the street. Small children should not be allowed to cross the street by themselves, or to walk or ride their bikes near roads with heavy traffic.

While walking is usually a safe and healthy activity, failing to practice basic precautions and rules near streets and roads can result in dire consequences.

Lt. Col. John LeBlanc,

Executive Director, La. Highway Safety Commission