People in the Phoenix area choose to walk places for a variety of reasons. Some people choose to walk to improve their overall health with regular exercise. Some people walk because they don’t want to waste money on gas or are trying to reduce environmental impact on clean air action days. In some cases, pedestrians choose to walk because they are under the influence of alcohol and don’t want to break the law.

Unfortunately, pedestrians incur quite a bit of risk caused by motor vehicles. Pedestrian car crashes can happen at any time of day, and in just about any situation. It only takes one mistake or oversight by a driver to put a pedestrian in the hospital. Arizona has very high levels of risk for pedestrians. Thankfully, there are a few steps you can take to reduce some of the risk involved with traveling on foot.

Alcohol is a common factor in pedestrian accidents

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol is a factor in nearly half of fatal pedestrian accidents. Roughly one third of those crashes involves a pedestrian with a blood alcohol concentration at or over the legal limit for driving. Another 15 percent of fatal pedestrian crashes involve a vehicle driven by someone over the legal limit.

While it is definitely a better choice to walk home than to drive home after drinking, it is often safer to secure a ride home with someone sober. Whether you ride with a friend or a ride share service like Uber, choosing to ride as a passenger when intoxicated is almost always safer for pedestrians then walking home drunk. If you must walk, ask a friend to accompany you and be sure to stay on sidewalks.

Watch out for vehicles, because they might not watch for you

Another way to limit your risk of a pedestrian crash is to be very attentive to traffic conditions. While you may have the legal right of way, knowing you were in the right will be cold comfort if you end up suffering severe injuries.

Stay on the sidewalks, or, if you must walk in the street, walk as far over on the shoulder as possible. Make sure you follow traffic laws by facing oncoming traffic. That helps ensure you will notice someone driving erratically, swerving or otherwise heading toward you in a dangerous manner.

Pay attention to road conditions and layout so that you can act quickly if you need to avoid a vehicle. Also, if possible, wear bright colored or reflective items that will improve driver awareness of your presence nearby.

Of course, nothing you do can fully eliminate the risk created by drivers for pedestrians. If you end up severely injured in a pedestrian-vehicle crash, make sure you educate yourself about your rights under Arizona law.