The way people live and interact has drastically changed over the past century – we’ve become more mobile and less reliant on direct proximity to certain needs, such as food, employment and entertainment – we travel and commute. A vital factor in that change were the engineering breakthroughs which enabled us to mass produce motorized means of transport. We drive cars or enter mass transit to get to work, for leisure, sport or to simply go out and meet other people across distances. Traffic is the main element in the structure of today’s society and this is why the fact that close to 300,000 people die annually as a result of traffic-related injuries should be addressed with utmost urgency.
Some of the most prominent causes of pedestrian fatalities and injuries in traffic are speeding, poor visibility, deficient road architecture and structure, lack of focus from pedestrians and drivers alike, but also supposedly minor violations such as jaywalking and last, but not least – improper education of traffic participants.
Pedestrians take care
There are many ways to enhance one’s safety as a pedestrian and people should constantly strive to practice them when in traffic. First rule – use caution and screen the environment. Whenever possible, use the sidewalk and cross the street on designated crosswalks when the traffic light tells you to – their main purpose is to provide pedestrians with safe passage in the vicinity of automobile traffic. If you’re walking down a road with no sidewalks, be sure to walk facing the oncoming vehicles and try to wear some reflective clothing. Furthermore, it helps to maximize attention to your surroundings and thoroughly examine it, and also to refrain from using devices such as your mobile phone or music player.
Drivers be ware
Being the ones behind the wheel of heavy metal vehicles moving at high speed and with great force, drivers must be constantly aware of their current position on the road and factor in the actions of all other traffic participants. Respecting traffic signs, speed limits, not using phones and being extra careful around densely populated urban areas – especially schools – can help severely reduce traffic accidents. Two paramount rules for drivers are, of course, to avoid drinking and driving, as well as using mobile phones while operating their vehicles at all times.
Regulate the roads
Institutions in charge of road maintenance should provide clearly marked and highly visible crosswalks, speed bumps, well-lit roads, marked side signals and good overall traffic conditions – minimizing potholes, maximizing visibility and adapting the terrain for both driver and pedestrian safety. Furthermore, having smart urban planning can help optimize traffic zones and handle congestion, making people less likely to violate speed limits.
In order to improve traffic safety, all active sides must constantly contribute. It is vital to train and prepare people to understand the nature of traffic from an early age and to ensure proper control of all traffic participants, resorting to monetary and legal penalties whenever necessary. Since the problem is systemic, it requires a systemic solution, and it starts with spreading awareness and educating the public.