The nighttime presents a unique set of challenges to pedestrians crossing streets and sidewalks. Drivers cannot see them as easily or immediately as during daylight hours, and pedestrians need to constantly be aware of oncoming vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated over 77% of pedestrian deaths occurred at night, compared to 20% during the day in 2020.

Understanding the pedestrian safety measures you can take is essential, whether you’re enjoying the nightlife or just going for a stroll. These extra safety precautions ensure you stay visible and avoid accidents while walking at night.

  • Always Assume Drivers Can’t See You: Never assume drivers see you as you walk, especially because they may be distracted or impaired. They may be texting or eating while driving and may not notice you until it’s too late to stop safely. Instead, wait a couple of seconds before walking on the street, even when the traffic walk signal is on. Check both directions for approaching cars before crossing the street. Attempt to make eye contact with the drivers and wave or nod at them to ensure they see you.
  • Wear Brightly Colored Clothing: Make yourself visible by wearing brightly colored clothes and accessories. Orange, yellow, and green can help you stand out from the buildings, parked cars, and dimly lit areas. Black and other dark colored clothing may make you blend into the background.
  • Use Reflective Vests and Accessories: Reflective materials react to other types of light, such as car headlights. Wearing a reflective vest or jacket over your shirt helps drivers spot you from all directions. A reflective armband, wristband, or belt can improve your visibility to drivers by illuminating your body outline at night. Headlamps, flashlights, and strobes can also help drivers see you better at night while also illuminating the path in front of you.
  • Only Cross at Crosswalks: Crossing only at designated crosswalks is the safest way to cross an intersection without getting hit by a vehicle. South Carolina requires drivers to give pedestrians right-of-way when on a crosswalk. If there’s no pedestrian crossing available, use caution as you cross the street. Ensure you watch out for oncoming vehicles, as pedestrians must yield right-of-way to them under South Carolina law when outside a crosswalk.
  • Walk Facing Oncoming Traffic: Walk in the direction where you can see approaching vehicles, rather than walking with traffic, which puts your back to oncoming cars. Drivers can see you when you are in their line of sight, so they know where you are on the road. Walking in this direction also lets you see oncoming cars before they get close enough to hit you, so you can better stay out of danger and move to the side, if needed. On one-way roads, walk on whichever side has the broadest shoulder facing traffic.
  • Stay Alert: The NHTSA recommends paying attention to your surroundings when walking. If you are using your cellphone while walking, you may not hear a car horn or see the traffic signal not to cross a crosswalk. Instead, wait to send a text until you are in a safe area away from the roads, so you can focus on nearby cars and traffic lights with distraction.

Drivers Should Be Cautious While Driving at Night

Although pedestrians must obey traffic signals, drivers must also exercise due care to avoid hitting them. This means drivers must pay attention to crosswalks and sidewalks and watch out for pedestrians at all times, especially at night or in dim light such as at dawn, dusk, or when the sky is overcast.  Remember, some pedestrians, especially young children, may not follow the rules. So, it is important to stay focused while behind the wheel.

Whether you’re the driver or the pedestrian, in the aftermath of a car accident, the insurance company may attempt to deflect blame on you. They may argue you were negligent in paying attention, even if you had the right-of-way at the time.

Because of the complexities of the law, if you are a pedestrian injured in a car accident, you’ll need an experienced South Carolina pedestrian accident lawyer to give you legal guidance. A skilled attorney can investigate your case and create a legal defense strategy against auto insurance companies that may place liability on you.

A Pedestrian Accident Attorney Can Help You With Your Case

The pedestrian accident lawyers at Joye Law Firm can help you if you or someone you care about has sustained severe injuries in a pedestrian accident. We can help you recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. Call our law office today for a free case review.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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