Make it Through Rush Hour Scratch Free

Posted on April 4, 2011


Did you know that an average of 3 pedestrians is injured in Boston each day? For those of you who have ever experienced rush hour know that living in a city poses many risks for walkers. There are a number of precautions both pedestrians and drivers can follow to help minimize avoidable accidents. Here are some interesting facts and tips from our friends at Injury Prevention:


How many pedestrians are in Boston?

Would you believe 2 million? The official census says that almost 600,000 people call Boston home. But when you add the many workers and visitors who come into Boston everyday, that number swells to 2 million pedestrians. With that many people walking in our city, pedestrian safety is an issue of critical importance.


How safe are Boston pedestrians?

Walking in Boston can be quite hazardous. In the year before our campaign started, 1,166 pedestrians were taken to the hospital following a motor vehicle crash in Boston. Since Walk This Way began, that number has declined significantly. Take a look at our number:


Injuries only tell part of the story.  Driver and pedestrian behaviors tell the other part.  We did a study and discovered the following:

  • Only 12% of pedestrians waited for “Walk” signal before crossing the street.1/3 of pedestrians jaywalked (crossed at least 5 feet from crosswalk).

  • While nearly 95% of drivers yield to pedestrians when pedestrians have the right of way, only 50% of drivers yielded to pedestrians who were crossing against the light. Even fewer slowed down for jaywalkers.

  • Results indicated that pedestrians frequently engaged in risky behavior possibly resulting in serious injury, particularly jaywalking and not crossing with the light.


Tips for Walkers

  • Use the crosswalk. It is the safest place to cross the street.

  • Check for traffic in all directions before stepping into the crosswalk.

  • If you’re at a crosswalk with a traffic light, push the button and wait for the Walk signal.

  • If you’re at a crosswalk without a traffic light, you have the right of way. Make sure approaching drivers see you and come to a complete stop before you cross.

  • Use sidewalks whenever available. On roads without sidewalks, walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic.

  • Wear bright colors when walking at dusk or after dark.

  • Watch for cars backing out of parking spaces and driveways.

  • The fine for jaywalking in the city of Boston is $1.


Tips for Drivers

  • Pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks without traffic signals. Failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk in Boston is punishable by a fine of $200.

  • Drivers should always yield to pedestrians on turns.

  • Special challenges arise when children and elderly cross the streets, such as visual limitations, increased distractions and slower pace.

  • Always watch for pedestrians when backing out of parking spaces and driveways.

  • Yield to school buses when the flashing stop sign is displayed – it signals that children are crossing the street. Also, be on alert when driving past school zones, playgrounds and ice cream trucks.

  • Take your time. Speeding and reckless driving are factors in nearly 23% of motor vehicle crashes, and doesn’t usually save you much time in the long run. Slow down – it will greatly reduce your chances of getting into a motor vehicle crash.


For more information on pedestrian safety call the Mayor’s Health Line at 617-534-5050 or scroll through the National Library of Medicine .