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crosswalk-thumb12There are numerous environmental and health benefits of walking rather than driving. Walking can reduce the risk of many preventable illnesses such as heart disease and cancer, lower blood pressure, and improve overall mood. Despite these benefits, all must be mindful of hazards while hitting the road on foot. Pedestrians are one the most vulnerable users of the road. There were over 1700 pedestrian accidents in the state of Virginia in 2011.

All pedestrians are at risk of such accidents. However, some of us are at higher risk than others. According to CDC.gov, older adults, children, and those who are alcohol-impaired rank highest. Those 65 and older account for 18 percent of all pedestrian deaths. Every year, more than half a million of our nation’s elderly receive emergency medical treatment for non-fatal injuries, and about 800 more die in pedestrian accidents. In 2010, 131 children were fatally injured in pedestrian-related accidents. According to a 2010 study, alcohol-related accidents report for 47 percent of all traffic crashes that resulted in pedestrian death. Most pedestrian deaths occur in urban areas, non-intersection locations, and in the evening.

Here are a few tips to prevent injuries and death from motor vehicle accidents:
• Always be aware of traffic and of your surroundings.
• Make use of areas that are properly marked for pedestrians, such as sidewalks, crosswalks or intersections, whenever possible. This is especially important in highly congested areas.
• Never assume a motor vehicle is stopping to let you cross.
• If you are walking at night, be sure to wear light-colored clothing, or a reflective vest.
• If you are too intoxicated to drive, walking may seem to be a safer alternative. However, walking under the influence can also hinder decision-making skills, and may also put you in danger.

Please keep these tips in mind while you enjoy the fresh air. We wish you a safe journey as you travel to your destination!

“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

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