Guest Author - Carla Cano
Oregon Live reported Richard Swanson, 42, was killed on May 14, 2013, shortly after embarking on a journey of a lifetime. His plan was simple. He planned to walk 10,000 miles, from Washington to arrive in Brazil in time for the 2014 World Cup. He was struck by a vehicle while he was walking along U.S. 101 in Lincoln, Oregon. Reports say that he was walking along the shoulder, with traffic. This tragedy could have been prevented, but both pedestrians and motorists need to be aware of each other and respect the rights of both to access the road. Walking safely should always be at the forefront of any walking program.
Walking should be a fun and relaxing activity, with a little preparation it can be. It is best if you can walk with a buddy. If that is not possible, chose a path that is frequented by other walkers and runners. Do not walk wearing excessive jewelry or expensive pieces that may draw attention of thieves or muggers. Do walk with your ID, a little money, and your cell phone, in the case of an emergency. Also, vary your walking routes, this way criminals will not be able to predict your route and plan a mugging or stalk you. Defensive walking simply means that you are taking precautions to arrive safely at your destination.
Regardless of the time of day be mindful of what you are wearing. Does it draw the attention of motorists, cyclists and other walkers or runners? Daytime clothing should be bright and close-fitting. Nighttime clothing should be light and should have reflective elements. Light, reflective clothing should also be worn during the dawn and dusk times of day, often motorists are not as alert at these times, they are just waking up or coming home from a long day at work. The objective is to be noticed by others that you are sharing the road or path with to prevent accidents.
Staying alert can make the difference in arriving safely to your destination or not arriving at all. Look before crossing the street. Elementary school lessons come back to play here. Look left, right and left again to be sure you have time to cross. Do not assume a driver will give you the right of way. Make eye contact with drivers to be sure they are not distracted by something else and that they see you. Also, walk against traffic, not with traffic when you must walk along a street. This way you will be aware of oncoming motorists. Whenever possible use trails and paths instead of walking on the street. Also do not talk on the phone while walking, distraction is dangerous regardless whether you are the motorist or the pedestrian. If you must listen to music while walking remember to keep the volume low enough that you can hear the activity around you.
Following the rules of the road can prevent needless accidents. Plan your routes and let others know the route you plan on taking each time you walk. Walking is a healthy activity and can be a time of relaxation and reflection. Remember to walk defensively, dress appropriately, and stay alert to arrive safe and get the most benefits from your walking program.
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