Lesson 6: Pedestrian Safety
Once your teen gets behind the wheel, his or her main goal should be to keep all road users safe, including pedestrians. Runners and walkers are particularly vulnerable on our roads, so your teen must watch carefully for them and know what to do to ensure their protection. Here are some tips for introducing your teen to pedestrians while out driving.
The best way to drive around pedestrians is to expect them everywhere. Whether it’s a parking lot, construction zone or major road, teach your teen to expect and look for pedestrians, even if they’re rare. Before backing up, turning or changing lanes, your teen should check the vehicle’s mirrors and, in some cases, turn around to confirm the road is clear. This is especially important in areas where pedestrians are common – like parking lots and intersections – and when there is limited visibility, like at night or in poor weather. Help your teen form this habit from the very first lesson and always practice it yourself.
If the streets are empty or the crosswalks are spaced far apart, people may be tempted to cross in the middle of the street. Though this might be wrong, the first priority in this situation is to prevent a crash. While pedestrians absolutely have a responsibility to pay attention to traffic, your teen can’t dismiss his or her role in keeping them safe. A vehicle, after all, has the potential to cause much more damage than a person does. If a pedestrian is crossing the street, it doesn’t matter whether or not he or she is supposed to be there. In that moment, all that matters is whether your teen sees the pedestrian and is prepared to stop.
Practice: On the next drive with your teen, teach your new driver to “connect” with any pedestrians waiting to cross the road. This can mean making eye contact with them so they know that your teen sees them, and putting a hand up to signal that they can cross safely while your teen waits. The goal is to avoid confusion however possible, even if it means your teen has to wait a few extra seconds.