Lengthy and leisurely walks have always been a common activity. When a pandemic hit the United States and resulted in shutdowns and “stay-at-home” orders, walking outside became even more popular, if not necessary, for those with limited options for physical activity.
What hasn’t changed is the risks that walkers face on a daily basis. Staying safe is essential and requires proactive and straightforward steps that include:
- As with those riding bikes and operating motor vehicles, adhering to the rules of the road and paying attention to signs and signals is paramount
- Maintain both awareness and alertness by minimizing the tempting distractions that come with electronic devices and avoiding drugs and alcohol that can impair both judgment and ability to stay upright
- Be seen and do not presume that a driver can see you by making eye contact as they drive towards you, wearing brightly colored clothing in the daytime and reflective materials at night; bring a flashlight just in case
- Stick to sidewalks and walkways whenever possible; lacking that option, ensure that you are facing traffic when the only option is walking along busy streets
- Cross streets where drivers traveling in all directions will anticipate your presence, specifically crosswalks or intersections; if those are not available, identify a part of the road that has adequate lighting and allows you to see the oncoming traffic both before the walk.
Getting exercise and fresh air is important, particularly during a health crisis. Being careful and cautious can result in an enjoyable walk that minimizes the possibility of injuries.