When people walk close to moving motor vehicles, there is always some degree of risk. Vehicles can cause catastrophic or even fatal injuries if they come into contact with nearby pedestrians. There are certain things you do as a pedestrian that can increase or decrease your risk of an accident.

People who frequently walk places would benefit from learning about how to safely share roads and intersections with vehicles of all sizes and shapes. One of the most important rules for walking safely is to avoid distraction.

Specifically, the main distraction you want to avoid is the habit of staring down at your cellphone instead of looking around you. Just like distraction while driving can lead to a crash, distraction while walking may increase your risk of being struck as a pedestrian.

You need to be watching for cars because they may not watch for you

One of the most frequent statements made by people in vehicles who strikes pedestrians is that they failed to see the people or person on foot. A common safety tactic employed by pedestrians, cyclists and even motorcycle owners is the practice of increasing visibility. Wearing bright colors or reflective materials can help those in traffic notice you when you are not inside a vehicle.

However, you shouldn’t simply rely on them to notice you. You are the one at greater risk of injury in the event of a crash. Knowing that people in vehicles may not be paying attention as closely they should be, you should do everything in your power to remain carefully attentive to your surroundings.

Keep your ears and eyes alert for movement and traffic sounds. Paying attention to the vehicles nearby could help you avoid stepping in front of an oncoming vehicle or otherwise endangering yourself. If you are looking at your phone instead of traffic conditions, you can make a mistake that could result in severe injury.

If you do need to text, do it while on the sidewalk

If you walk places, especially if you commute to lunch from work and back again on foot, you may find yourself in a situation where you need to respond to your boss or someone else quickly while still walking. If you have to handle your phone, do so carefully.

Send a text or an email on the sidewalk, ideally after stepping out of the flow of traffic and stopping for a second. You should never look down at your phone when you start to cross into the street. Your response should attend to critical issues only and advise the recipient that you will respond in full when you reach your destination safely.