Pedestrians must take careful steps to stay safe

Pedestrian safety is a team effort.

Last year was not a good year afoot.

In Clark County, 78 pedestrians were killed, not counting the fatalities on private property such as parking lots. This is a 44 percent increase from 2016.

Nationwide, almost 6,000 pedestrians were killed in 2016 (the latest year national statistics were available), an 11 percent increase from 2015.

Boulder City had no pedestrian fatalities, most likely due to its superb engineering, education and enforcement efforts.

While anecdotes abound as to the causes of the surge in pedestrian fatalities — such as the legalization of marijuana and increase in hand-held device use — it is known that 15 percent of pedestrians are killed by drunken drivers; however, 34 percent of pedestrians are intoxicated when struck.

Regardless of myriad causes in pedestrian fatalities, a team effort is necessary to reduce the carnage. This team effort must be made by pedestrians and motorists.

There are no winners in a vehicle-pedestrian collision, contrary to social media comments such as, “I bet the vehicle won.”

If you are on foot, you can take a few steps (pun intended) to protect yourself.

Before stepping off a curb onto a crosswalk, consider how the military trains its personnel to avoid ambushes. Crossing a hostile area with no cover or concealment places you inside the enemy’s “kill zone.” You’re exposed; they have the high ground and you are an easy target.

Therefore, enter and exit the crosswalk (kill zone) quickly and safely. Watch the drivers carefully, make eye contact and assume they do not see you.

Walking briskly across that intersection, you will pass the tweens, teens and young adults, with their spellbound faces planted in their not-so-smartphones, walking slower than octogenarians.

Motorists must drive defensively. Driving defensively means anticipating the unexpected.

Anticipate the pedestrian running across the intersection at the last second.

Anticipate the “professional” pedestrian, especially in larger, busier cities. They are the ones that wait on the sidewalk for someone, like you, to make a right turn on a red light. You believe they are waiting to cross in the opposite direction. However, as you begin your right turn, they walk into your fender, fall down and scream as if they are in excruciating pain. Now, you’re in a “collision” with a pedestrian, as if your insurance isn’t high enough already.

Don’t lose pedestrian awareness in parking lots. While backing from a parking space, anticipate pedestrian traffic, especially below your eye level. The few seconds you spend taking your time are invaluable. Beware of the distracted person exiting a grocery store. Walking at a brisk pace, they will not stop, look up or check both directions before entering their kill zone.

Likewise, while walking through a parking lot, anticipate a distracted driver carelessly backing out.

One may consider the odds of striking a pedestrian or being struck as a pedestrian to be minuscule. However, it is not the odds, it is the consequences.

Make a lifelong resolution to return home safely every day. Your family, including your four-legged fur-babies, will appreciate your efforts.

Happy new year.

Dan Jennings can be reached at