Louisiana is No. 3 in the nation in preventable pedestrian deaths, and The Advocate’s news story about a recent hit-and-run of a pedestrian in Baton Rouge sparked much online debate.

The discussion revealed that many drivers and pedestrians are unaware of the rules of the road, which is why public education efforts for those who drive, walk or bike on our streets deserve a few minutes of our attention.

As chairman of the Capital Region Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Campaign, I hope a tragic incident such as this can provide learning opportunities for our community to help make our streets safer for all.

The first thing we urge pedestrians to remember is to be visible. Light colors give drivers the best chance of seeing you, but reflective clothing and carrying a flashlight if walking at night is the best way to help car drivers see you.

Pedestrians should walk facing traffic if on the street where there is no sidewalk, as opposed to bicyclists who ride right — or with traffic.

It’s very important to walk smart — which means avoiding distractions caused by talking on cell phones, texting, listening to music or impairment by alcohol. Simple distractions can lead to deadly consequences.

Drivers should watch for pedestrians in crosswalks, be alert to pedestrians walking on our roads and be prepared to stop. If you can stop to avoid hitting a pedestrian, you must. It’s not just the morally right thing to do, the law says you are required to do it.

With high gas prices, more and more people use bicycles or walk to work or other activities. With our “Don’t Be a Road Hog” public education campaign, we are working to change attitudes in the Capital Region, raise awareness of everyone’s rights to use our roads safely and hopefully prevent serious injuries and deaths from occurring.

More information and helpful resources on safety and traffic laws are available through the Capital Region Planning Commission at http://www.crpc-la.org.

Our legacy of dangerous roads is something we should all work together to change, beginning with learning the laws that require us to share the road safely.

Bruce Wickert

CRPC Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety Committee

Central