Many people in California choose to walk alongside busy roads for exercise or just to get from one location to another. The problem for pedestrians is that they are heavily exposed to serious injury or death if they are struck by a vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 6,283 pedestrians were killed in accidents in 2018. This fact reinforces the importance of proper safety while walking.
In the event you have no sidewalk available to walk on as you travel by a road, the NHTSA recommends that you walk facing oncoming traffic. By doing so, you can see vehicles approach your position. You cannot see traffic if you walk with traffic approaching from behind; you have to rely on your hearing to know what is coming. However, in the event you are distracted, you might not hear the vehicle until it is close and you have insufficient time to react.
You might believe that a motorist should see you and react accordingly. This can be a dangerous assumption. Distracted drivers can miss other vehicles, and a pedestrian, being smaller than an automobile, is even more likely to go unnoticed. While you walk facing traffic, look up at the driver when a vehicle approaches. Making eye contact may help the driver recognize you are in the immediate vicinity and to drive more cautiously.
At the same time, pedestrians should not be distracted themselves. People walking down the street sometimes listen to music through ear buds connected to their phones, or they may be chatting with another person on the phone. Using an electronic device while walking alongside a road can be dangerous. It is safer to keep eyes and ears on the road.
Pedinfo.org recommends that you remain sober while walking near a street. Inebriation can greatly hamper the ability of a driver to safely navigate a road, and drinking too much alcohol is similarly dangerous for a pedestrian. You might misjudge distances, walk out into the middle of a street, or not react to oncoming traffic in time. Also remember that traffic does not always consist of road traffic. You might approach a driveway where a vehicle is pulling out, and if you are not careful, you could be struck by the vehicle.
It is also advisable to wear visible colors. Bright colors and reflective materials may provide you with added visibility to motorists. This is especially crucial if you go for a nighttime walk. It is much easier for a driver to miss you at night unless you make yourself noticeable. You might also consider carrying a flashlight with you.