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The new school year is in full swing and many are heading outdoors to enjoy the fall weather before the cold arrives in a couple of months. Fall activities, like school sports or Halloween, will bring an increase in pedestrians this month, which is why October is Pedestrian Safety Awareness Month. It is equally important for both motorists and pedestrians to understand the cautions they should take when heading out on the road.Untitled-1

More than 6 in 10 people walk for transportation, exercise, relaxation, or for other activities. While there are many benefits to walking, such as having positive effects on one’s physical health and the environment, there can also be dangers to walking, particularly in busy, urban areas. In 2019, there were 6,205 pedestrians killed and 76,000 injured in traffic crashes. This equates to a pedestrian being killed every 85 minutes and injured every 7 minutes in that year.

When behind the wheel, drivers need to stay alert at all times and look for pedestrians everywhere. This is especially important during poorly lit conditions, including dusk, dawn, night, and poor weather. In 2019, 26% of pedestrian fatalities occurred between 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Another factor that contributes to pedestrian crashes is when the driver, or pedestrian, is under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol involvement was reported in 46% of pedestrian crashes in 2019. Motorists should never get behind the wheel when being under the influence of alcohol. Always plan ahead, choose a designated driver, or take advantage of ride sharing apps.

Even though they are not the ones behind the wheel, pedestrians need to take extra caution near busy roads, and follow the rules of the road to avoid being hit:
• Be sure to walk on a sidewalk or path when one is available.
• If no sidewalk or path is available, walk on the shoulder, facing traffic.
• Stay alert; don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes and ears off the road.
• Be cautious night and day when sharing the road with vehicles. Never assume a driver sees you (he or she could be distracted, under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, or just not see you). Make eye contact with drivers as they approach.
• Be predictable. Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections when possible. This is where drivers expect pedestrians.
• If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area, wait for a gap in traffic that allows you enough time to cross safely, and continue to watch for traffic as you cross.
• Be visible. Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.
• Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your judgment and coordination.

Of course, another popular event coming up at the end of the month is Halloween. Not only does this even increase the number of pedestrians, many children, who are out Trick-or-Treating, there is also an increase in drivers under the influence. This holiday is a time when it is especially important to follow the rules of the road, be cautious of your surroundings, and avoid distractions.

Even the safest of drivers can find themselves in need of assistance, which is why the MassDOT Highway Assistance Program sponsored by MAPFRE Insurance assists in helping with fixing minor mechanical problems, flat tires, fuel shortages, and emergency situations. The Highway Assistance Program drivers monitor some of the state’s busiest highways around Metro Boston, Worcester, Springfield and Cape Cod (seasonal). The Highway Assistance Patrol covers 13 major state roadways and interstates, the Emergency Service Patrol covers the Mass Pike (I-90) between New York to Boston and the Incident Response Operators cover the Metropolitan Highway System and tunnels. The Highway Assistance Patrol is in service Monday–Friday between the hours of 6 a.m.–10 a.m. and 3 p.m.–7 p.m. During holidays, there are extended routes in heavy traffic areas. On I-90, and in Boston’s tunnel system, assistance is provided 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.

Written By
Keith Jensen
Senior Vice President, Northeast Business Development
MAPFRE Insurance

Written By:

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