One in four pedestrian accidents in Europe happens at a crosswalk

Jul 2018

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pedestrian crossing

Although the road signs at zebra crosswalks look the same almost everywhere in Europe, pedestrians in foreign countries cannot necessarily assume that drivers will always give them priory at zebra crosswalks, as is generally the case in Germany. If you go across the zebra crosswalk on Abbey Road in London like the legendary Beatles did back in 1969 – or on any other road in the UK – you can expect drivers to stop and let you pass. But setting foot on a zebra crosswalk in Italy without a second thought may put you in danger or result in a rear-end collision between drivers caught off guard. “So make sure you are always aware of the normal practice at zebra crosswalks in the relevant country and act carefully when in doubt,” advises DEKRA accident researcher Stefanie Ritter.

Pedestrians are already among the most at-risk road users. Around 20 pedestrians die on roads in the EU per day, coming to 7,000 a year. A quarter of these accidents happen at crosswalks. Stefanie Ritter therefore also calls on drivers to pay even more attention to pedestrians. The expert also warns against parking too close to pedestrian crosswalks. This can dangerously obstruct visibility for pedestrians and drivers. In Germany, for example, drivers must leave a distance of at least five meters. Particular caution is required when turning off a street. It is easy to overlook pedestrians here if they are coming from two sides at once. And another tip: “Don’t overtake in situations where you don’t have a clear overview, for example if a large vehicle ahead of you slows down and stops. A pedestrian might be crossing the street just then,” says Stefanie Ritter.

Pedestrians can also contribute to their own safety. “Don’t let yourself get distracted by your smartphone or other things when crossing the street,” advises the accident researcher. “Whenever possible, only cross the street at designated crosswalks, and look right and left first to check that the street is clear.” If a vehicle stops at a crosswalk, you should check whether another vehicle is trying to overtake it. Particular caution is required at intersections, where pedestrians can easily be overlooked by vehicles turning off.

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