What is a pedestrian?
According to the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE), a pedestrian is “a person on foot on a public road.” However, the DGT expands that definition and also considers pedestrians “those who push any other small non-motor vehicle or people with reduced mobility who circulate with a wheelchair (with or without a motor).”
General traffic regulations
There are general traffic regulations that all pedestrians must comply with:
Pedestrians must move in places reserved for them and not in prohibited places (for example, highways and expressways).
In the city, if possible, they should use the centre of the pavements, moving away both from the curb – so as not to be hit by a vehicle – and from the buildings – due to the fact that there are garage entrances or exits.
If a street does not have a pavement or there is an obstacle, pedestrians should move as close to the wall as possible and, if possible, facing traffic.
Special attention should be paid to children, who should always go hand in hand with adults and play in safe spaces and away from the road.
Also, pedestrians cannot carry loose animals. Otherwise, they could create dangerous situations for the other users of public roads.
And pedestrians are only allowed to invade the road to cross it.
How should you cross a street?
Since we have referred to the invasion of the road, it is an action that carries a risk. For this reason, it is important to always choose the safest place to cross it, preferably a passage regulated by road markings, traffic lights or traffic agents. And if it does not exist, a place with good visibility must be selected.
In any case, before crossing a street we will stop next to the curb, look left and right to make sure that there is no danger and finally cross the road in a straight line, as fast as possible but without running.
At traffic light-controlled crossings, wait until the pedestrian’s silhouette is green before crossing the road, still making sure it is safe to cross before moving, and you should speed up if it starts blinking. Even if we have priority, it is advisable not to cross until checking that the vehicles have stopped.
Likewise, we will have priority at crossings. But this does not mean that a driver will stop when we start to cross. It is advisable to signal drivers by hand to warn them of our intention and to cross only when the vehicles have stopped.
The crossing that provides the most confidence and security is that regulated by a traffic agent. In this case, their indications prevail over others. For example: if the silhouette of the pedestrian at a traffic light is red but the agent indicates that we can cross the road, we will follow the officer´s instructions.
Out of town
All these tips are useful to us in the city. But how should we act if we decide to stretch our legs and take a good walk on the road out of town? It is a healthy habit. But if we want to move out of town, the following recommendations must be considered:
Only walk on roads where there is no express prohibition.
In general, in this type of road you must walk on the left to see the approaching vehicles from the front.
If it exists, walk on the hard shoulder. Otherwise, the part of the road closest to the edge will be used. In any case, if there are several people who move, you should go one after the other (in single file).
As in the city, the roads must be crossed at safe places and extreme precautions must be taken. Visible sections should be chosen, and curves and gradients should be avoided.
Since we have been talking about visibility, wearing clothing like reflective vests will help us be more visible to drivers.
And both in the city and on the road, it is essential to forget the mobile phone and avoid listening to music or the radio with headphones, since its use, by distracting us, isolates us from traffic and makes us even more vulnerable pedestrians.
Drivers: tips to avoid collisions
But whether we are run over does not depend only on us. Logically, drivers have a lot to do. Speeding, talking on the mobile phone, thinking about other things … There are several reasons that can cause it. When we stop being pedestrians and become drivers, it is essential that we consider these tips:
First of all, we must respect speed limits.
We must monitor speed and take extreme precautions when approaching pedestrian crossings, bus stops, schools, playgrounds, shopping streets, etc.
We have already discussed it: operating the mobile phone or the browser is dangerous. And, furthermore, it is prohibited.
Occasionally, pedestrians pass between parked vehicles to cross the street. When driving alongside the latter, you must be especially vigilant, because they could step into the road.
And the same happens if we are parked. When reversing we will look in the rear-view mirrors to make sure that there is no pedestrian passing behind our vehicle.
Be respectful and do not park on a pavement. By occupying it, we will force pedestrians to use the road.
And on the road, we will moderate the speed if there is a vehicle on the hard shoulder. At any time, one of its occupants could appear on the road, with the consequent risk of being run over.