“Don’t cross where there’s not a crosswalk. Why take the chance?” That’s the wise advise offered by Metro Police Officer Ray Sutherland after investigating a fatal accident between a pedestrian and a car early Wednesday morning. A 59-year old veteran was killed while attempting to cross Preston Highway during the busy morning rush hour traffic while walking outside the crosswalk.

Unfortunately, these pedestrian versus motor vehicle accidents are all too common. The good news is they are also frequently avoidable if pedestrians and drivers both follow the rules of the road.

People are walking around more these days for a variety of reasons: to exercise, to participate in many of Louisville’s festivals and events, and sometimes just to switch up their usual mode of transportation. This increased pedestrian traffic also results in increased pedestrian injuries and deaths due to collisions with motor vehicles. Whenever and wherever you are walking, you are responsible for your own safety and must always be aware of the motor vehicles around you.

Generally speaking, pedestrians have the right-of-way but also have responsibilities of their own. Most importantly, pedestrians must obey traffic signals such as traffic lights and stop signs just like drivers do. Pedestrians are also required to walk in crosswalks where they are provided.

Drivers these days are distracted by so many things such as cell phones, the car radio, a crying child, or visibility issues due to the weather. Don’t assume the driver of the car coming towards you sees you and is going to stop. In fact, assume just the opposite and take every precaution for your safety.

Next time you’re out and about walking around, remember these safety tips:

  • Obey all traffic signals-they apply to you, too!
  • Use a crosswalk when available.
  • Even when using a crosswalk, make sure the driver sees you and stops his vehicle before you enter into the crosswalk.
  • Walk facing traffic so you can see drivers and they can see you!
  • Don’t try to “beat” a car across the street—the car travels faster on four wheels than you ever will on two legs.
  • Wear reflective clothing if you’ll be out exercising and when visibility is poor, like early in the morning, or at dusk.
  • Always look both ways before crossing the street.

Play it safe and play by the rules of the road!

Watch for our series about pedestrian injuries and how you can protect your rights if an accident occurs.