Safety Tips

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Pedestrian Safety

Walking is an alternative means of transportation to driving. It is economical and healthier for you and the environment. As gas prices continue to increase, more and more people are choosing to walk especially for shorter distances to the store or a neighbors’ house.

Walking 10,000 steps daily is recommended for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Walking regularly can manage your weight, reduce heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, as well as other diseases.

Walkinginfo.org is a great resource for pedestrians. They offer safety tips for pedestrians, such as:

Be safe and be seen: make yourself visible to drivers

  • Wear bright/light colored clothing and reflective materials.
  • Place reflectors especially on joints to create “BioMotion” which is much more noticeable at night.
  • Carry a flashlight when walking at night.
  • Cross in a well-lit area at night.
  • Stand clear of buses, hedges, parked cars or other obstacles before crossing so drivers can see you.

Be smart and alert: avoid dangerous behaviors

  • Always walk on the sidewalk; if there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic.
  • Stay sober; walking while impaired increases your chance of being struck.
  • Don’t assume vehicles will stop; make eye contact with drivers, don’t just look at the vehicle. If a driver is on a cell phone, they may not be paying enough attention to drive safely.
  • Don’t rely solely on pedestrian signals; look before you cross the road.
  • Be alert to engine noise or backup lights on cars when in parking lots and near on-street parking spaces.

Be careful at crossings: look before you step

  • Cross streets at marked crosswalks or intersections, if possible.
  • Obey traffic signals such as WALK/DON’T WALK signs.
  • Look left, right, and left again before crossing a street.
  • Watch for turning vehicles; make sure the driver sees you and will stop for you.
  • Look across ALL lanes you must cross and visually clear each lane before proceeding. Just because one motorist stops, do not presume drivers in other lanes can see you and will stop for you.
  • Don’t wear headphones or talk on a cell phone while crossing.

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Pedestrian Safety Tips for Drivers

Be alert: watch for pedestrians at all times

  • Scan the road and the sides of the road ahead for potential pedestrians.
  • Before making a turn, look in all directions for pedestrians crossing.
  • Don’t drive distracted or after consuming alcohol or other drugs.
  • Do not use your cell phone while driving.
  • Look carefully behind your vehicle for approaching pedestrians before backing-up, especially small children.
  • For maximum visibility, keep your windshield clean and headlights on.

Be responsible: yield to pedestrians at crossings

  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, whether marked or unmarked.
  • Yield to pedestrians when making right or left turns at intersections.
  • Do not block or park in crosswalks.

Be patient: drive the speed limit and avoid aggressive maneuvers

  • Never pass/overtake a vehicle that is stopped for pedestrians.
  • Obey speed limits and come to a complete stop at STOP signs.
  • Use extra caution when driving near children playing along the street or older pedestrians who may not see or hear you.
  • Always be prepared to stop for pedestrians.

Make sure your community is pedestrian friendly by using this checklist.

Bicycle Safety

There is a myriad of benefits to cycling, ranging from health to economical to environmental benefits. International Bicycle Fund promotes 60 benefits of cycling. However, seniors need to be extra cautious when riding a bicycle. As people age, health and physical issues may add to the safety factors. Some include:

  • Balance and strength to ride a bicycle becomes an issue
  • More endurance is needed to ride longer distances and up uneven terrain
  • Impaired night vision limits riding to day hours
  • Arthritis can reduce agility steering around obstacles

Suggestions to compensate for these impairments are:

  • Convert to three-wheeler
  • Better seating and upright seating
  • Take more breaks during trips
  • Ride during daytime hours
  • Ride more cautiously, slower
  • Ride in clear weather conditions
  • Get your eyes checked regularly

Child Restraint Protection Devices

Vehicle safety systems were created to protect adults. This causes children passengers to particularly be at risk during vehicle crashes or mishaps. Effective July 1, 2007 there were three changes to the Virginia Child Passenger Law. This law applies to anyone who provides transportation for a child in any vehicle manufactured after January 1, 1968.

  • All children under age eight must be properly restrained in a child safety seat or booster seat.
  • Rear-facing child safety seats must be secured in the back seat of a vehicle.
  • Children can not ride unrestrained in the rear cargo area of a vehicle.

What Type of Safety Seat Should I Use? (VA Dept Health)
The safety seat used depends on the age, weight and height of the child. View PDF document detailing specific parameters.

In order for the safety seat to work properly, it must be installed correctly. Follow the manufacturer’s directions closely. Regretfully, nine out of every ten safety seats in use in Virginia have been installed incorrectly.