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Pedestrian Safety

How Pedestrians Can Walk Safely

And Tips for Drivers Sharing the Road

No matter where you live or how you get places, at some point during the day, you’re a pedestrian. Unfortunately, pedestrian deaths have increased on America’s roadways. 

By the Numbers

In 2020, there were 6,516 pedestrians killed in traffic crashes, the highest since 1990 and a 3.9% increase from 2019. On average, a pedestrian died every 81 minutes in 2020 — accounting for 17% of all traffic fatalities. 

Here at NHTSA, our goal is to keep you safe — inside and outside of the vehicle. Before you step outside or get behind the wheel, get familiar with these safety tips.

Safety Tips for Drivers

  • Look for pedestrians everywhere. Pedestrians may be walking in unexpected areas, or may be hard to see — especially at night, in poorly lit areas, or in bad weather.
  • Follow pedestrian safety laws in your state or local area — always stop or yield for pedestrians in the crosswalk.
  • Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. They might be stopped to allow pedestrians to cross the street.
  • Stay alert where children may be present, like in school zones and neighborhoods.
  • Slow down and carefully adhere to posted speed limits, particularly in urban and pedestrian-heavy areas. Lower speeds are one of the most important factors in pedestrian crash survivability.

Safety Tips for Pedestrians 

  • Walk on a sidewalk or path. If neither is available, walk facing traffic and as far from cars as possible. 
  • Cross streets at marked crosswalks or intersections whenever possible; this is where drivers expect pedestrians. If neither is an option, 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 alert. Walkers wearing headphones or using a cell phone might not hear a car horn, or could miss a traffic signal at a crosswalk. 
  • Know walking while impaired is dangerous. An estimated 47% of fatal pedestrian crashes in 2020 involved a pedestrian who was drunk. NHTSA offers tips for other ways to safely get home. 
  • Never assume drivers see you; they could be distracted or impaired. It’s best to make eye contact with drivers to make sure you are seen. Make yourself visible by wearing brightly colored clothing during the day. At night, wear reflective materials, or use a flashlight.

Pedestrian Safety

NHTSA offers more information and tips on staying safe when you walk and run.