Always be aware of pedestrians while driving

BECAUSE WE ALL PAY the taxes that build and maintain them, we all have a tendency to behave as though we own the streets, roads and highways we drive on.

Too many of us also have too great a tendency to believe that we are sole owners of those streets, roads and highways.

That leads to driving behaviors and actions that contribute to accidents, injuries and deaths.

Common sense says that courtesy and consideration should always be a priority whenever driving. That should be directed toward all other drivers, but it must also extend to pedestrians as well.

Too many people forget that pedestrians have a right to cross streets, roads and highways in designated crosswalks and, perhaps more than other vehicles deserve the care and consideration of drivers.

That’s because pedestrians lose in any collision, regardless of who has the right-of-way. One in six traffic fatalities is a pedestrian, so the issue of pedestrian safety is obviously a serious one.

As the Wisconsin Department of Transportation points out on their website, both drivers and pedestrians have certain safety responsibilities that depend on both circumstances and common sense.

According to the DOT, drivers must:

• Yield to pedestrians when crossing a sidewalk or entering an alley or driveway.

• Yield to pedestrians who have started crossing at an intersection or crosswalk on a “walk” signal or a green light, if there is no walk signal.

• Yield to pedestrians who are crossing the highway within a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection where there are no traffic lights or control signals.

• Not overtake and pass any vehicle that stops at an intersection or crosswalk to permit a pedestrian or bicyclist to cross the roadway safely

Safety and responsibility are two-way streets, and pedestrians must use good judgement as well. Crossing streets without any concern for traffic rules or signals is jaywalking, which is illegal, dangerous and can result in injuries or death.

According to the DOT, pedestrians must:

• Yield to drivers when crossing a road where there is no intersection or crosswalk or where the pedestrian does not have a green or “walk” signal and where vehicles have a green signal.

• Not suddenly move into the path of a closely approaching vehicle that does not have sufficient time to yield for a pedestrian.

• Walk on and along the left side of a highway when not walking on a sidewalk. Note: This law does not apply to bicycles. Bicycles operate under the same laws as other legal vehicles on the road and should always stay on the right side of the road.

With the coming of summer and good weather, more people will be out walking, jogging or running along city streets and country roads, which they must share with drivers.

There is no reason why roads, streets and highways can’t be shared safely by two-legged and four-wheeled users, as long as we all use a little common sense, show a little courtesy and follow the law.

After all, we’ve all paid for the streets, roads and highways, whether we use them on two legs or four wheels.

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