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Walk This Way


All of us, at one time or another, are pedestrians. It is essential to recognize that even though the number of Montana pedestrian deaths only accounted for a small fraction of crash fatalities, about 6% overall, they are preventable.

The University of Montana Police Department deals with a large volume of daily pedestrian traffic. Mix that with the vehicular traffic surrounding the UM Campus, and it can cause some problems. This post is focused on pedestrian safety. The tips offered can be applied anywhere you might find yourself walking or running. We hope you find the information valuable, and we hope you can always get from where you are to where you are going safely when traveling as a pedestrian. Still thinking two steps ahead can help you accomplish that goal.

Pedestrian Fatality Facts

In the United States, one pedestrian is killed about every 88 minutes, and pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely to be killed in a crash than occupants of motor vehicles.

Here are just a few statistics surrounding pedestrian fatalities in Montana:

  • More pedestrian fatalities occurred in urban areas (76%) than in rural areas (24%).

  • More pedestrian fatalities occurred at non-intersections (72%) than at intersections (18%). The remaining 10% of deaths occurred at other locations such as roadsides and parking lanes.

  • More pedestrian fatalities occurred in the dark (75%) than in daylight (22%), dusk (2%), and dawn (1%).

  • The age groups with the highest percentage of pedestrian traffic fatalities were the 10–14 and 50–54 age groups.

  • 70% of pedestrians killed in traffic crashes were male.

  • An estimated 33% of fatal pedestrian crashes involved a pedestrian with a BAC of .08 or higher.

  • An estimated 13% of fatal pedestrian crashes involved a driver with a BAC of .08 or higher.

Pedestrian Safety Tips

We want everyone to be able to enjoy walking or running safely from wherever they are to wherever they might want to be. Walking or running can be a very enjoyable and healthy mode of travel, whether you are walking alone or with family members or friends. If walking or running is your mode of travel, it is crucial to keep in mind a few essential safety tips so that you can stay safe while enjoying all the benefits of being a pedestrian.

  • Maintain Awareness! In today’s world, we are inundated with distractions from a number of devices that encourage us to take our eyes (and ears) off the road.

The first rule of safe walking or running is to keep your head out of your APPS! Focus on the walk, not your communication devices. You can always focus your attention back to your devices when you safely reach your destination.

  • Walk on the sidewalk when one is available. We commonly encounter pedestrians who are walking or running in the roadway when sidewalks are available. Pedestrians traveling in the roadway are unexpected, and vehicle operators can be taken by surprise, especially when pulling out of parallel parking areas alongside the road. Never assume that a vehicle driver sees you!

  • If a sidewalk is available, it is always safer to use for pedestrian travel.

  • If there is no sidewalk available, walk or run facing traffic and as close to the side of the road as possible.

  • Be visible! Wear bright or reflective clothing. If you are traveling on foot at night, use a light of some kind, a lighted vest, a headlamp, or some other form of lighting that can be seen from both the front and the rear.

  • Cross at Crosswalks! Whenever possible, cross streets at crosswalks or intersections, where drivers expect pedestrians to cross. Look for cars in all directions, including those turning left or right.

  • If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross safely; continue watching for traffic as you cross.

  • Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways or backing up in parking lots! As a pedestrian, you are hard to see, and a vehicle driver’s attention is divided in many different ways. Although pedestrians usually have the right-of-way, Drivers tend to look for other drivers rather than for pedestrians or cyclists. Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers to make sure you are seen.

  • Follow the Law! Many pedestrians are unaware that there are laws pedestrians must follow. Following the law makes you more predictable and accidents more preventable. There is a complete chapter in the Montana Motor Vehicle Codes that outlines laws for pedestrians. This information can be found here: Montana Code Annotated, Title 61, Chapter 8, Part 5, Pedestrian Traffic.

  • Don’t Be an Intoxicated Pedestrian! Alcohol will always impair your abilities and your judgments. Avoiding alcohol and drug intoxication as a pedestrian is critical. An estimated 33% of fatal pedestrian crashes involved a pedestrian with a BAC of .08 or higher!


Pedestrians are at risk of death, disability, and injury. While there is no single measure that can adequately address the vast range of threats to our pedestrian population, there are many practical and reasonable things pedestrians and operators of motor vehicles can practice to improve pedestrian safety. We have provided a few safety tips in this post for you to use while you are out walking or running. Please consider always thinking two steps ahead for your safety and the safety of others.

Stay Safe and Arrive Alive. We are all important to someone!

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