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Pedestrians, bicyclists urged to stay alert

As summer kicks into high gear, more Michigan residents will be out walking, jogging or riding bicycles. Secretary of State Ruth Johnson reminds pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers to watch for traffic dangers and remember some simple safety tips.

"Michigan features many bike-friendly roads and scenic walks for pedestrians," said Johnson. "However, I encourage everyone to keep alert regarding the conditions around you. Together we can protect our friends and neighbors from harm through basic courtesy and by obeying roadway rules."

Johnson is sending a personal message to driver education instructors across the state asking them to remind students of these safety tips. In addition, the Department of State's Be Safe, Be Seen campaign continues, educating drivers and pedestrians about ways to be safe and share the road.

A 2011 Transportation for America report ranked metro Detroit the 12th most dangerous area in the United States for pedestrians. Between 2000 and 2009, 799 pedestrians were killed in the Detroit-Livonia-Warren area. Statewide in 2009, Michigan reported 118 pedestrian deaths. In addition, a report from the Michigan Automobile Association of America says nearly 96 percent of bicycle deaths result from crashes with motor vehicles. About 47 percent of all bicycle crashes occur off the road, in driveways and on sidewalks.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2009, alcohol was involved in 48 percent of all pedestrian fatalities, whether it was the driver or the pedestrian.

Drivers are also urged to watch out for children. In 2009, 17 percent of the bicyclists injured in motor vehicle accidents were 14 years old or younger.

Pedestrians are reminded to:

  • Cross the street at a designated crosswalk when possible, and always stop and look left, right, and left again before crossing.
  • Come to the edge of a parked vehicle and look around it if it's blocking the view of the street before entering the street.
  • Increase their visibility at night by carrying a flashlight when walking and by wearing reflective clothing that highlights body movements.
  • Walk on the side of the road facing oncoming traffic where there are no sidewalks.

Bicyclists should:

  • Obey the rules of the road as any other vehicle operator, including traffic signs, lane markings and signals.
  • Wear safety helmets and reflective clothing.
  • Stay as far to the right as practical when riding in traffic lanes, not ride more than two abreast in a single lane, so long as it does not interfere with the normal flow of vehicular traffic and ride in the same direction as other traffic.
  • Have a front headlight and rear reflector if riding after dark.

Johnson recommends drivers:

  • Look out for and always yield the right-of-way to people walking, jogging, biking or crossing a street in the middle of a block.
  • Pull out slowly from driveways and parking areas while watching for pedestrians.
  • Stop fully before turning right on a red traffic light, and make sure no pedestrian or bicyclist is crossing or waiting to cross.
  • Yield to anyone crossing the street if turning left on a green light.

Additional information about traffic safety, including the Be Safe, Be Seen brochure, is available at www.Michigan.gov/sos. You can also sign up for official Department of State Twitter feed (www.twitter.com/Michsos) and Facebook updates (www.facebook.com/Michigansos).

Customers also may call the Department of State information center to speak to a customer service representative at (888) SOS-MICH (767-6424).

(Note: This report is provided as a service to our readers and a service to the group or individual mentioned in the release. Usually, only minor editing is done. The group or individual is responsible for all information provided.)

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