driving tips

Ask An Officer: Summer Safety While Sharing the Roads

Posted on by Teggy Maris. This entry was posted in Staying Healthy. Bookmark the permalink.

Summer is here. The living is easy. And people are out and about enjoying our beautiful weather. I’m an avid walker/jogger year round. But during the summer months, I have a lot more company on the roads. During my daily jogs, I often see some interesting maneuvers from pedestrians and motorists alike as we all try to share the road. People are also incredibly distracted (ahem… texting while driving!). How can we all share the road and be safe in the process? I chatted with Major Steve Rittereiser with the UW Police Department about summer safety. He shared some good tips and a few may even surprise you.

What are some good summer safety tips for walkers and runners?
Visibility is key. Wearing reflective gear that can be seen by both bikers and drivers is a good idea. Pedestrians also need to anticipate what they think the driver can or cannot see. Many accidents involving pedestrians happen when the sun is setting.

Huh! I wouldn’t have thought that dusk would be an especially difficult time.
It really is. And this is because the sun may be in the driver’s eyes making it difficult for them to see. So pedestrians should be more aware, especially at dusk. You may have the right of way, but if the driver can’t see you then you really don’t and you just need to wait.

What are some other safety tips for pedestrians?
Use crosswalks and don’t dart into traffic. Something that pedestrians aren’t aware of is that they get shielded by larger vehicles so while a truck may stop for you, the smaller car on the inside lane may not because they just can’t see you. Also, make eye contact with a driver before crossing the street. I know this is harder to do in summer due to sunglasses, but making eye contact at an intersection is just good sense.

What about bicyclists?
Bicycling in the state of Washington already has established rules of the road. If you’re a novice bicyclist or even more experienced it’s good to check out the WSDOT Bicycle Commute Guide as well as the Federal Highway Administration for Washington State’s Safety Program. And the best thing a bicyclist can do is wear a helmet. And again, visibility is key, especially at dusk, so wear reflective gear. Mirrors are also good gear for bicyclists to have so you can see what is behind you.

What are some good tips for drivers?
Be patient and extremely careful when passing bicyclists and pedestrians. Drivers may not realize that novice cyclists look behind them when they hear a car, and that action of looking over their left shoulder steers them into traffic. Which is why mirrors are good for cyclists to use. So it doesn’t hurt to slow down and be defensive as you pass a bicyclist.

Let’s all have a safe summer while respecting each other’s space on the roads. Thanks to Major Riitereiser for the tips!

Related: Learn How to Bike Commute for Free
Make It A Safe Summer and Fourth of July