An incident in Martinez this week stresses the importance of pedestrian safety.
Kimberly Goldman of Concord deliberately drove into three people as they crossed the crosswalk in downtown Martinez. Police said that the victims were Goldman's estranged husband and two friends. Shortly after hitting the pedestrians, Goldman fled the scene and drove off the Benicia Bridge.
There's not much you can do if a disturbed driver intentionally tries to run you over. Thankfully, those situations are rare. Pedestrian injuries and fatalities, however, are not.
California Office of Traffic Safety reports 813 pedestrians were killed in 2015. This accounted for nearly 25 percent of California roadway deaths, up from 17 percent in 2014.
Pedestrian-vehicle injuries are also the fifth leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 19, the National Safety Council reports.
To ensure a safe walk to work or school, follow these steps for safety.
1. Cross the street at the crosswalk or intersection.
2. Look left, right, and left again when crossing the street.
3. Stay visible at night and early in the morning with reflective clothing and a flashlight.
4. Walk on the sidewalk. When there isn't one, walk facing traffic and as far away from traffic as possible.
5. Stay alert. Keep your eyes on your surroundings and not on your phone. Don't talk, text or play Pokemon Go when crossing an intersection.
Drivers can do their part for pedestrian safety by taking the following precautions:
1. Look out for pedestrians, especially at night or when it's rainy or foggy.
2. Slow way down when approaching a crosswalk.
3. Stop at the crosswalk line so that other drivers understand to yield as well.
If you're the parent of a young child, teach him or her pedestrian safety skills. The Safe Routes to Schools website has a detailed guide for children ages four and up.
If you get injured as a pedestrian, follow the same steps as you would in an auto accident: get contact info for the other parties and any witnesses. Take pictures of the accident site if possible. Write down everything you can about the accident, including what you experienced, any injuries you suffered, and any wages you may have lost because of the accident.
Visit your doctor as soon as possible. Not only is this good for your health, but you'll create a medical record of your injuries.
Contact a personal injury lawyer. Most lawyers will give you a free consultation to evaluate your claim. Take the time to do this, as the lawyer can help determine whether comparative negligence (whether you're partially at fault) is at issue or if experts need to be hired to reconstruct elements of the incident.
Walking is a great form of exercise and a low-stress, environmentally sound way to travel. Follow a few common sense practices as you enjoy your next stroll.
Photo by Casey Fiesler, Flickr