Communication and Public Affairs
U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center
Fort Rucker, Alabama
Holiday activities that begin at Thanksgiving and end after New Year’s provide plenty of time to enjoy family and friends. But while you focus on turkey, football, religious activities and welcoming a new year, don’t let a pedestrian accident wreck your plans.
During 2013, 4,735 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s an average of one crash-related pedestrian death every two hours during the holidays and the rest of the year. Additionally, more than 150,000 pedestrians were treated in emergency departments for nonfatal crash-related injuries in 2013.
To stay safe while walking during the holidays or any time of year, commonsense pedestrian safety tips always apply, said Tracey Russell, Ground Directorate, U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center.
“Use crosswalks and always look both ways before crossing, and never walk on train tracks,” she explained. “If you must walk on a roadway, always walk facing traffic and be hyperaware of your surroundings, whether you’re near a roadway or crossing a parking lot.”
Most pedestrian accidents occur at night, so it’s important to be especially vigilant after dark. Always wear a substantial amount of reflective clothing and carry a flashlight.
“Make eye contact with the driver of an approaching vehicle and hold your hand up before stepping out,” Russell said. “Many drivers are distracted, so don’t assume one is going to stop just because the light is red and their car is slowing down.”
During the holidays, shopping centers and weather pose increased hazards for pedestrians.
“As you head off to the local shopping center, consider that large crowds and adverse weather conditions can make parking lots and stores difficult to navigate,” Russell cautioned. “Injuries resulting from slips, trips and falls are one of the leading causes of emergency room visits each year, so be particularly cautious on wet or icy surfaces. Wear low-heeled shoes with a treaded sole, be careful not to overload yourself with packages, and always remain aware of your surroundings.”
The holidays are also a prime opportunity for socializing, often with alcohol. Drunk drivers pose a critical hazard to pedestrians and motorists alike.
“If you see someone at a party who you know shouldn’t operate a motor vehicle, joke with them about needing to take their keys to keep them safe and that they shouldn’t drive,” said Corey Fitzgerald, a social worker and addiction counselor with Army Public Health Command. “If it’s a stranger, talk to them or their friends, but avoid being confrontational in either situation. If all else fails, you want to notify law enforcement.”
For more information on pedestrian safety, visit https://safety.army.mil.