Although many areas in South Carolina have sidewalks, you may find yourself walking on a road without them at some point. So, is it better to walk with or against traffic? The best advice is always to walk on the same side of the road as oncoming traffic.
In other words, you should walk against traffic. When walking in an area without sidewalks, you should walk on the left side of the road, close to the shoulder. This is the opposite of the recommendation for a bicyclist, but it is the safer option for a pedestrian.
Why Should I walk Against Traffic?
Again, it is always best to use a sidewalk whenever one is available. Still, when you do not have the option of walking on a sidewalk, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends walking while facing traffic for a number of reasons.
Watch for Inattentive Drivers
When you are walking on the left side of the road and looking at oncoming drivers, you have the ability to see the driver through the windshield. You can tell if the driver is watching the road. You also can tell if the driver is looking in the backseat or is looking down at a smartphone.
When you can tell that the driver is not looking at you, you can begin to protect yourself by moving farther away from the road, toward the shoulder and ditch. This head start of a few steps that you take away from the reckless driver might be the difference between the car missing you by inches and the car striking you.
Take Advantage of Reflective Clothing
By walking while facing oncoming traffic at night, the driver’s headlights should strike the front of your body as the car approaches your position. If you are wearing reflective clothing, most of the reflective material will be on the front of the clothing.
The headlights will strike the reflective material better when you are facing oncoming traffic, giving the driver the best chance of seeing you.
Receive the Maximum Amount of Sensory Input
Ultimately, walking on the side of the road closest to oncoming traffic gives you the best chance of noticing an oncoming car. When you can both see and hear the oncoming car in the lane closest to you, you are able to judge the car’s direction and speed more efficiently.
It is easier to decide whether you need to move farther away from the road with this extra information.
If you are walking on the side of the road with traffic, you have to rely on your ears to hear the cars. You only will be able to see the car by turning around. You will have less time to react when only using your ears to listen for an approaching car.
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Ways to Keep Yourself Safe as a Pedestrian
As a pedestrian, you should never assume that drivers are going to see you. Experts tell you to drive defensively, always watching out for reckless drivers and driving conservatively to give yourself the best chance at avoiding a crash. You should have the same mentality when you are a pedestrian.
The University of South Carolina’s Division of Law Enforcement and Safety (LES) has a number of tips to help pedestrians be as safe as possible.
Do Not Wear Earbuds or Headphones
Even when walking while facing oncoming traffic, you still need to rely on your ears to hear far-off cars as soon as possible. If you are wearing earbuds in both ears, this reduces your ability to hear oncoming cars.
If you want to wear headphones or earbuds, leave one ear uncovered, so you can enjoy your music and hear traffic.
Avoid Walking While Under the Influence
Just like you should not drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you should not walk along the side of the road in this condition either. You will be slower to react to dangers from oncoming traffic when you are drunk or high. Ask someone for a ride or stay where you are until you are sober.
Avoid Staring at a Smartphone
Keep your eyes up and on the road ahead of you when walking on the shoulder. Do not stare at a smartphone or a tablet while walking. You may wander into oncoming traffic when you are not watching where you are going.
The Team at Hammack Law Firm Can Handle Your Personal Injury Case After a Pedestrian Accident
You may have done everything possible to behave safely as a pedestrian, yet a reckless driver hit you, causing injuries. When you hire our team to represent you in a personal injury case, you can count on us to treat you with the compassion and professionalism that you deserve.
For a free case review, contact us as soon as possible at (864) 326-3333. This is a no-obligation meeting.