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How to Walk Safely When Sidewalks and Crosswalks Aren’t Available

Nearly 1,300 pedestrians are injured yearly in Wisconsin, and another 53 suffer fatal consequences in a pedestrian accident. State leaders created the Wisconsin Pedestrian Policy Plan in 2020 to combat this serious issue. This long-term initiative will improve pedestrian safety with more crosswalks, wider sidewalks, and better lighting.

Despite these efforts, there may still be areas in Wisconsin where sidewalks and crosswalks are unavailable. Understanding what to do if you can’t access these features as a pedestrian can help you protect your well-being and avoid a serious accident. 

Tips for Walking Safely in Your Community

Whether your journey involves a daily commute, a leisurely stroll, or a fitness-focused walk, you should prioritize your safety, especially in areas lacking crosswalks or sidewalks. Navigating these situations may require extra precautions, such as facing traffic, wearing bright clothes, and walking in well-lit areas.

  • Face traffic flow: When there is no sidewalk, always walk facing oncoming traffic. Walking in this direction increases your visibility to drivers, allowing them to spot you more easily and for you to establish eye contact and anticipate their movements. Wisconsin Statute 346.28 also makes facing traffic mandatory when walking on a road or highway without a sidewalk.
  • Wear bright clothing: You can wear high-visibility clothing when walking to increase visibility to motorists. Choose brightly colored attire, such as vests, shirts, belts, hats in fluorescent yellows or oranges, or garments made of reflective materials.

74% of pedestrian accidents in the U.S. happen during dark conditions, so high-visibility clothing catches the attention of drivers from a distance, minimizing the chances of accidents.

  • Carry a flashlight: Enhance your visibility by carrying a flashlight, especially at dawn, dusk, or nighttime. Carrying a flashlight can make you more visible to drivers and help you see where you are walking. Statute 347.489(1)(a) mandates using lighting devices for bicycles and other devices during low-light conditions. Although it does not strictly apply to pedestrians, it is good practice to help keep you safe.
  • Keep a safe distance: Keep a safe distance from the road whenever possible. Maintaining space away from the road provides an added buffer between you and passing vehicles, reducing the risk of accidental collisions.

Successfully and safely keeping a safe distance typically involves staying as far to the side of the road as is practical, around three feet from the edge of the road. However, the distance may vary depending on road width, traffic speed, and local conditions.

  • Cross in well-lit areas: When crossing the road outside a crosswalk, choose well-lit areas that offer a clear view of traffic in both directions. Wisconsin

Statute 346.25 makes it the pedestrian’s responsibility to yield the right-of-way to vehicles when crossing at places other than a crosswalk. If one is unavailable, choose an area with adequate lighting to ensure visibility for both parties.  

Additional Safety Considerations for Pedestrians

As a pedestrian, you can take several additional safety precautions, whether or not sidewalks or crosswalks are available. The following tips can help you stay safe and protect your rights when walking on Wisconsin roads or sidewalks:

  • Stay alert and unplugged: Walking requires your full attention. Avoid distractions such as phones or headphones, which prevent you from hearing approaching vehicles or noticing potential hazards. Staying attentive allows you to react quickly to changing situations, like vehicles backing out of driveways.
  • Plan safe routes: Devise routes that prioritize pedestrian safety. Choose pathways with well-maintained sidewalks, clearly marked crosswalks, and proper lighting, especially when walking at night. Familiarity with your surroundings helps you anticipate potential challenges and make informed decisions.
  • Avoid alcohol and distractions: Walking under the influence of alcohol or drugs impairs your judgment and coordination, making you more at risk of an accident. Jaywalking or crossing mid-block increases the likelihood of unexpected collisions. Stay focused, sober, and use designated crossing points to ensure a safe journey.

Contact a Pedestrian Accident Attorney Today

When it comes to pedestrian safety, knowledge is your greatest ally. By following these safety tips, you can better navigate Wisconsin roads, minimize risks, and safeguard your well-being.

Our Appleton pedestrian accident lawyers at Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers are focused on prioritizing your safety and providing expert legal guidance in cases involving pedestrian accidents.

Your safety matters, and our dedicated team can advocate for your rights and help you navigate a personal injury claim if you’re involved in an accident. Reach out to us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

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