PhotoWhether you live in a city or suburb, just going for a nice walk can really add to your day. But all too often these days that nice walk turns into a bad accident.

In 2010 alone 4,280 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents and 70,000 were injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

In 2009, 11 pedestrians died every day in traffic accidents, while 162 pedestrians were injured each day throughout the U.S.

Engineering flaw?

Erin Breen, director of the Safe Community Partnership Program at the University of Nevada, told a local news outlet that a lot of U.S. roads are designed for cars to go over the speed limit.

Breen, who knows a lot about the pedestrian laws in Nevada, says it's difficult for drivers to slow down in certain areas.

"If you engineer a road to be fast, you can't be surprised that people speed on the road," she said. "We can't look at engineering roads just for cars. We need to engineer roads for all road users."

Capt. Victor White of the Lakeland, Fla., police department says pedestrians have to take responsibility and make sure they're always aware of what traffic is doing.

"Always be aware of traffic around you," he said in an informational video. "Don't suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into an oncoming vehicle."

And pedestrians should always use the crosswalk, no matter how inconvenient it may be to walk there. White says even if there isn't a crosswalk, certain rules should still be followed.

"If there is no crosswalk in sight, cross the road using a route that is the shortest distance to the opposite side. When crossing a roadway at any point other than a marked crosswalk or at an intersection, you must yield the right of way to all vehicles."

Paying attention

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Statistics show that out of all the pedestrian accidents in 2010, 1,289   happened because the pedestrian didn't yield, so experts say to always wait for a vehicle to completely pass before you proceed. 

And turn down the music. Many of us walk around town with our headphones blaring and it's easy to get lost in our own worlds and forget about safety. When using your headphones outside, you should still be able to hear all of the sounds around you; if you can't, the music is too loud. When crossing the street remove yourself from the song you're listening to. 

You should always look at the crossing signal to find out how long you have left to cross over.

In addition, texting or talking while crossing the street can be almost as dangerous as texting while you're driving, so put down the smartphone  for a second.

If there isn't a sidewalk, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you should walk on the shoulder of the street facing traffic. 

Driver checklist

And of course there are things drivers should do.

The folks at the University of North Carolina's Highway Safety Research Center say drivers should immediately slow down anytime they see a crosswalk, whether a person is visible or not.

In areas where there are a lot of pedestrians, drivers should always be prepared to stop, instead of trying to get through a crowded area quickly.

And drivers shouldn't only be looking out for people walking at intersections and crosswalks. Experts say drivers should expect pedestrians to be anywhere at any time -- even at places pedestrians really aren't supposed to be.

It's always smart to scan the area where you're driving and anticipate a person crossing the street or walking on the side of the road.

Furthermore, drivers should always yield to pedestrians when they're making a right or left turn at intersections, something that's easy to forget when you're in a hurry.

Being safe on the roads and sidewalks is truly a shared responsibility between the pedestrian and driver and both parties should be patient. But probably the most important thing to remember -- for both the waler and the driver -- is to never assume the other will yield.

It's always best to let the other person pass first, experts say.


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