Simple Steps to Walk Safely

Here are few ways pedestrians can do their part to stay safe and help prevent car accidents.

woman crossing a San Francisco street in crosswalk at intersection, photo
Always cross inside crosswalks.

When it comes to pedestrian safety, AAA walks the walk. Consider the School Safety Patrol, a national program that teaches student volunteers to help their peers get to and from school safely.

Since its inception in 1920, the program has played a vital role in reducing casualty rates among children ages 5 to 14. It helps save lives and costs schools nothing.

In Northern California, Nevada, and Utah, more than 14,000 fourth through eighth graders participate in the program, receiving traffic safety and leadership training and performing volunteer duties under adult supervision.

"Safety is everyone's responsibility," says School Safety Patrol Advisor Deborah Carlino of Martin Elementary in South San Francisco. Her student patrollers won the 2016 AAA Safety Patrol Lifesaving Medal for their actions, which saved a life.

Traffic safety is a two-way street. Just as motorists have a duty to drive responsibly, pedestrians owe it to themselves— and others—to do their part.

See and be seen.

Never assume that a driver will see you and stop. Make eye contact with motorists before crossing an intersection to ensure that you've been noticed. In any low-visibility scenario, wear bright or reflective clothing. Carry a flashlight at night.

Stay alert.

Distractions are dangerous for pedestrians, too. Don't look at your phone or wear headphones while you're crossing the street. Be aware of engine sounds, the beeping of trucks backing up, and other traffic noises. Also: Stay sober. Even if you're on foot, safety risks do increase when your reflexes are impaired.

Follow the rules.

Crosswalks exist for a reason. Use them, crossing the street at designated locations makes it easier for divers to see you and anticipate your movements. Obey traffic signals, but don't rely on them exclusively. Walk on the sidewalk, not in the bike lane or along the curb. Walk facing traffic if there is no sidewalk. Avoid blind curves when possible, and never assume a driver will give you the right-of-way.

Teach children well.

The oldest practice still applies: Look left, look right, then look left again before crossing the street. Remind kids to listen to crossing guards and to peer leaders on the AAA School Safety Patrol.