11 Rules for Staying Safe While Walking

Walking is a healthy activity, but you need to know the rules of thumb of pedestrian safety. This is especially true if you are walking in an area where there aren’t sidewalks or paths separated from the road. You should always observe traffic safety rules as well as additional guidelines that will help you stay safe when you are walking in public areas.

To stay safe walking, follow these rules of the road.


  • Pay attention to traffic
  • Walk on the sidewalk whenever possible
  • Walk single file
  • Remember that motorists might not see you


  • Walk with your back to oncoming traffic
  • Forget to watch for other pedestrians and cyclists
  • Wear dark colors, especially at night
  • Listen to loud music or look at your phone

Walk Facing Traffic

If there is no sidewalk and you must walk on the side of the road, choose the side where you are facing oncoming traffic. In North America, this is the left side of the road. Walking opposite traffic gives you the best chance to see vehicles approaching closest to you and take evasive action when needed.

This may be confusing because the opposite rule is true for cyclists. They should cycle in the same direction as the traffic flow.

Cross Safely

Your mother was right—you should look both ways before crossing any street. At controlled intersections, it is wise to cross only when you have the pedestrian crossing light. Even then, drivers and bikers may have a green light to turn (or be legally turning right on red) and won’t be expecting you to be in the crosswalk.

Make eye contact with any drivers who may be turning. Give them a wave. Make sure they see you. In an interaction between a vehicle and a walker, the walker can only lose. It can be tempting to simply jaywalk, but that is not only a safety hazard; it can also result in getting a ticket.

Even if you are obeying traffic signs and signals, remember that motorists and cyclists might not notice you. Always stay aware of your surroundings whenever you cross any street.

Walk on Roads Single File

Unless you are on a sidewalk separated from the road or you are in a wide bike/pedestrian lane, you should walk in single file. This is especially important on a road with lots of curves and where traffic has only a split second chance of seeing you before hitting you.

Walking abreast can also cause you to become distracted by conversations so that you are not paying proper attention to traffic or road signs.

While it can be enjoyable to walk down the road two to three abreast chatting merrily, drivers don’t expect it and you may lose your best walking buddies.

Stay Aware of Bikes and Runners

Share the road and path with bikes and runners. Bike riders should alert you when approaching from behind with a bike bell or a “passing on the left/right.” Listen for them, and move to walk single file, allowing them to pass safely. Runners should also call out for passing. Bike-walker collisions can result in broken bones or head injury for either—and you aren’t wearing a helmet.

Be Visible

Wear bright colors when walking in the daytime. When walking at night, wear light-colored clothing and reflective clothing or a reflective vest to be visible. Drivers are often not expecting walkers to be out after dark, and you need to give them every chance to see you, even at street crossings that have crossing signals.

Be Predictable

Make a practice of staying on one side of the path while walking rather than weaving randomly from side to side. Watch your arm motions, or you may end up giving a black eye to a passing walker, runner, or biker.

Keep the Volume Down

Don’t drown out your environment when listening to music with your earbuds or headphones. Keep the volume at a level where you can still hear bike bells and warnings from other walkers and runners. If you’re using ear buds, wear only one so you can hear your surroundings. Your audiologist will also thank you.

Hang Up and Eyes Up

Distracted walking due to chatting, texting, or playing games like Pokémon Go on a mobile device while you walk is as dangerous as doing those things while driving. You are distracted and not as aware of your environment. You are less likely to recognize traffic danger, tripping hazards, or passing joggers and bikers. Potential criminals see you as an easy target.

Adopt habits that can keep your phone in your pocket, or at least make it a practice to stop in a safe place to complete your phone tasks before moving on.

Walk Dogs on Short Leashes

It is terrifying and tragic to witness dogs running out into traffic or getting into a fatal dog fight, whether on a leash or off-leash. But when walking your dog on a long leash there is also a danger that you will trip other walkers or bikers. You will keep your dog safer as well as those who pass by you if you use proper leash walking etiquette.

Know When to Stop Walking

Heat sickness, dehydration, heart attack, or stroke can strike walkers of any age. Learn the symptoms of these medical emergencies and carry a cell phone to dial 911. Even if you are a seasoned and well-trained walker, you may experience one of these problems and need to cut your walk short. Encourage your walking friends to stop when they show any concerning symptoms.

Be Aware of Stranger Danger

Street safety is a concern for many walkers.2 Choose a walking route frequented by other walkers, joggers, and bikers. Acting alert and aware can dissuade dangerous people from making you a target.

If you see someone suspicious, be prepared to alter your course or go into a store or public building to avoid them.

Use these rules to enjoy safer walking workouts and avoid injuries and accidents.


Original Source: https://www.verywellfit.com/walking-safety-rules-3435079