Walking 101 (How to be a pedestrian) 

In drivers’ handbooks we are told pedestrians have the right of way to cross and wherever they happen to appear, every vehicle must yield to them. This is definitely not the case nowadays with texting while walking, thinking the drivers will automatically stop for you and more. I will share some of what I have learned walking through the dangerous streets of Southern California. Much will apply to the rest of the globe. 

1. Pedestrians need to show their attentiveness. 

Don’t text and walk while crossing. If you must, text BEFORE crossing and make sure you’re not blocking the path and you’re not too close to the crosswalk entrance. Recently, South Korea has even implemented warnings for pedestrians as the nation has the world’s highest smartphone usage rate. Also, be sure to try not to text and walk. I limit my phone usage time while walking as I feel I will hit someone or something; I end up stopping and then check my phone while ensuring I am not impeding anyone’s path. My eyes are moving around and scanning the environment (doesn’t this sound like what you learn when you first take a driving lesson?) as everyone should do. You should never assume the path ahead is clear. Anything could appear in a flash and then you’re in a mess. So apply  your driving skills when you’re walking as well – it’s simple and common sense. Yet, every time I walk I see a few people who don’t follow this rule. You have to protect yourself so get into the habit of being more attentive. 

2. Look into the eyes of the drivers. 

Anytime you’re crossing or are somewhere on the road, be sure to know if cars are coming. Check the lights constantly. I know here in California, drivers love to go on red lights at times and tend to act hastily. What’s your solution? Look at them in the eye. Making a right turn is dangerous for drivers because pedestrians or bicycles may suddenly rush. For pedestrians, the best way to stay safe is to look at the lights. When they’re about to change, look to see if there are any cars coming. If yes, look at drivers before crossing. Sometimes drivers will go ahead even if you do look at them and have the right of way. So look twice before proceeding, left AND right. Yes, it is safest to make sure your way is entirely clear even if it seems like a tedious way of thinking about it. Walking is indeed a difficult task if you live in huge cities where traffic delays are present and cars are literally everywhere. 

3. Don’t do stupid things.  

Don’t talk or text on your phone while walking in congested areas as this is both a hazard to you and drivers. Don’t eat messily or run around, potentially confusing others. If you have children, take precautions to make sure they are in your reach. Just walk, yes just walk. It is best when you’re fully alert and many accidents could be avoided if we heed these unstated rules. 

For drivers:

Please try to make it easy for pedestrians. Don’t go into the crosswalk. Don’t honk abnormally. Let people walk even if they’re crossing in the middle of a street instead of cursing and yelling at them. This road rage is unfortunately sometimes applicable to pedestrian-drivers and not just drivers-drivers. I hope we can all learn to work together when navigating. Also be courteous to other drivers. They could be your boss’s relatives or your co-worker’s child. 

All in all, stay calm and alert. I know anger can get the best of us and it has happened to me many, many times and sometimes I still make mistakes. Hope you find this helpful. By the way:

What habits of drivers and pedestrians bother you? 

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