Pedestrian safety

Pedestrians crossing a street
Photo courtesy of AAA
Foundation for Traffic Safety

What is a pedestrian?

A pedestrian is anyone on foot and any person with disabilities traveling in a wheelchair or a mobility device to help individual overcome a disability. The 2009 Household Survey shows nearly 10% of trips were done by bicycle or on foot, not by car.

Walking is emerging as important for personal health and fitness and as pleasant and relaxing form of transportation. In Wisconsin, where trees and lakes abound, walking can also provide a unique and relaxing way to enjoy the environment that we may miss as we speed by in our automobiles.

Walking is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and can provide a range of benefits. People are healthier and stay healthy longer when they get regular exercise. Physical activity can help prevent heart disease, obesity, and even some types of cancer and diabetes. Exercise such as walking 30 minutes per day can have a positive effect on depression and anxiety and help to improve one's mood.

Pedestrians are still in a world dominated by motorists, however, and collisions with motor vehicles do occur. Some 60 pedestrians are killed each year in Wisconsin, and more than 1,600 suffer injuries. Children ages 5-9 and adults over 75 years old are particularly vulnerable to these collisions. Injury prevention and travel safety begins with a mutual respect between both motorists and pedestrians.

Definition of a pedestrian

We are all pedestrians.

Everyone is a pedestrian at some point in his or her trip, whether it is from doorstep to bus stop, from the parking lot to an office, or taking the dog on a leisurely trip through the neighborhood streets.

Wisconsin law defines a "pedestrian" as "any person afoot or any person in a wheelchair, either manually or mechanically propelled, or other low-powered, mechanically propelled vehicle designed specifically for use by a physically disabled person.

Pedestrian safety for kids and parents

Children are very valuable -- and very active -- members of communities. Being struck by a car is a leading cause of death and injury to children. The greatest risk is to children 5-9 years of age and occurs in their own neighborhoods.

Children can be difficult to protect since they lack the skills and experience that most adults have come to take for granted. Children have little or no sense of danger. They tend to be impulsive and don’t take the time to stop and think about safety, and children may also have a difficult time judging the speed of approaching cars. Their smaller stature also makes them harder for motorists to see. Adults need to take special care to teach children how to behave safely when around automobile traffic. Supervision is crucial through age nine.