DEAR ABBY: I appreciate your concern for children's safety and your dedication to getting helpful information out to the public.
In a recent column, you printed a letter regarding a young man who was hit and killed by a car. My sympathies to the parents and family for their loss. That letter raised a question in our household. If you are walking, and no sidewalk is available, on which side of the road should you walk?
When I was involved in scouting, the rule was to walk facing traffic. However, I recently heard that pedestrians should walk "with" the traffic. Can you please address this issue and let everyone know what is the correct side of the road to walk on? It may also be appropriate to mention the side of the road bicyclers should travel. Thanks! -- CONCERNED PARENT, FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.
DEAR CONCERNED PARENT: What's probably causing your confusion is that the rules are different for bicycle riders and pedestrians. People on bikes are required by law to "go with the flow" of traffic. However, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
(1) If you must walk on a roadway and sidewalks are unavailable, always walk FACING the oncoming traffic. This will allow you to take evasive action if a vehicle comes into your path.
(2) Before stepping into the street, always stop and look left, right and left again. This will ensure that you see all oncoming traffic.
(3) Make full eye contact with the driver before stepping in front of his or her vehicle. Many people falsely assume that if they can see a vehicle, the driver can see them as well. Not true!
(4) Even when you have a green light or a "walk" signal permitting you to cross the street, always watch for inattentive drivers. Many drivers simply fail to stop for pedestrians. (And sadly, many drivers fail to stop for red lights, too, these days, and the results have been tragic.)
(5) Dress to be seen by drivers. During dusk and later evening hours, wear reflective clothing and carry a flashlight.
(6) Exercise caution in parking lots and garages. Vehicles may be backing up without the driver realizing that you are attempting to pass. (Watch for backup lights and listen for engine noise.)
(7) Always remember that many drivers fail to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk, even though they're required to do so. Walk defensively!
DEAR ABBY: My condolences to the family who lost their 16-year-old son because he was hit by a car while walking at night. That letter struck a nerve with me because I am a taxi driver. Every night I'm driving, I see anywhere from 30 to 100 people cross the street after dark wearing dark clothing, and in many cases without looking for oncoming traffic. For all intents and purposes, people are invisible when they wear dark clothing at night.
I narrowly missed one pedestrian one night because the area was poorly lighted, he was wearing dark clothes, and he walked out from between two parked cars without looking.
The only reason I can think of to explain why I missed him is that he had a guardian angel with the wings of a B-52. -- DAN L., LONG BEACH, CALIF.
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