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Less Traffic Doesn’t Mean It’s Safer for Walkers or Bikers

By BAGOLIE FRIEDMAN INJURY LAWYERS, Correspondent | May 12, 2020 | NEW JERSEY

Story No. 051220104

Speeding, Careless Driving Up as Traffic Levels Come Down; bikers, walkers must be more vigilant.

Traffic levels right now are the lowest in decades with millions of Americans staying close to home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, more people are walking and biking to get out of the house and take advantage of less congestion. All good, except that some drivers see empty roads and highways as an invitation to speed or drive distracted.

Here are just a few concerning examples from around the nation. The California Highway Patrol has issued almost double the number of tickets compared with last year for driving over 100 mph. In Nevada and Rhode Island, state officials note pedestrian fatalities are rising. Utah has seen a 30% to 50% drop in highway traffic and a slight decrease in the number of collisions, but troopers are seeing higher speeds and more fatal accidents.

The lesson for us all – walkers, bikers and drivers – is not to let down our guard because roads and highways seem less crowded. Keep these basic walking/driving safety tips in mind at all times, but especially now:

Tips for Drivers

- Don’t block any crosswalks when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn.
- Watch your speed – less traffic doesn’t make it any less dangerous to drive recklessly.
- Take extra care to look out for pedestrians or cyclists, especially in residential areas.
- Watch for unexpected street closures. Many cities are selectively closing roads to create more space for walkers and bikers.
- When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly. And leave three feet between your car and the cyclist.
- Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling. Young bicyclists especially have a tendency to do this.
- Check side mirrors before opening your door when parked.

Tips for Pedestrians and Cyclists

- Whenever possible, walk on the sidewalk. If no sidewalk is available, walk facing traffic.
- Follow the rules of the road, obeying all traffic signs and signals.
- Cross streets at crosswalks. If no crosswalk is available and your view is blocked, move to a place where you can see oncoming traffic.
- Stay alert – avoid cell phone use, especially when crossing the street. Keep your eyes out for cars at all times.
- As mentioned above, several cities are closing streets to vehicle traffic or adding temporary bike lanes. Check your city website for more information.
- If you are riding a bike, you should be wearing a helmet. Download this guide from the National Safety Council to select and fit the right helmet for yourself and your kids.
- And, of course, keep your social distance! Even outside, the CDC recommends we stay six feet away from others. It’s up to all of us to share the trails, share the road and share the good weather safely.

This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.