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Sharing the Road

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PEDESTRIANS

Approximately 20% of all traffic fatalities are pedestrians. Most of the pedestrians killed are children, elderly persons, or persons who have been drinking. It’s a good idea to reduce speed and create a larger space cushion when you see pedestrians on or near the street.

As a driver you will find pedestrians making errors. Don’t sentence them to injury or death because they make mistakes. Study the following rules and put them into practice when you drive and when you walk.

Your responsibility as a DRIVER

  • Slow down, yield, and be prepared to stop when approaching pedestrians who are walking on or crossing the roadway.
  • Do not drive through a pedestrian safety zone when occupied.
  • Do not pass a vehicle that has stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the street.
  • Be especially watchful for children near schools and residential areas.
  • Check mirror before exiting your vehicle.

Older people are often handicapped by poor vision, slow reaction time, and inability to move fast. Children are quick and see well, but they are not familiar with traffic patterns and often underestimate the destructive force of a motor vehicle.

Pedestrians using guide dogs or white canes with or without a red tip must be given the right of way at all times, regardless of the traffic signal or traffic situation.

These pedestrians are partially or totally blind. Be especially careful when turning corners or backing up when these pedestrians are in your vicinity.

Here are some suggestions for helping pedestrians who are blind:

    • Don’t stop your car more than five feet from the crosswalk.
    • A blind pedestrian uses the sound of your engine as a guide, so drive up to the crosswalk to allow the person to hear you.
    • Important:
    • Drivers of electric and hybrid vehicles must be extra alert to blind pedestrians, as they may be unaware of your presence due to the nearly silent nature of these vehicles.
    • Don’t give the blind pedestrian verbal directions. The blind pedestrian listens to all traffic sounds before deciding to cross the street.
    • Don’t wait too long for the blind pedestrian to cross the street.
    • If the person takes a step back and pulls in his or her cane, that’s a definite sign that you should go.
    • Don’t stop in the middle of a crosswalk. This forces the blind pedestrian to go around your car and into traffic outside of the crosswalk.
    • Don’t honk your horn at a blind person. The blind person has no idea who you are honking at and may be startled by the noise.

Your responsibility as a PEDESTRIAN

  • Cross only at crosswalks.
  • Obey all traffic laws and signals.
  • Never cross a street on a “stale” green traffic light that has about run out of time or when a steady or flashing “Don’t Walk” or upraised hand appears.
  • Look for turning vehicles before crossing the street.
  • Walk on the left side of the highway facing oncoming traffic.
  • Do not solicit a ride from anyone on or along a highway.
  • Wear light-colored clothing when walking on or alongside the roadway at night.
  • Do not drink an intoxicant or be intoxicated on or along a highway.

 

BICYCLES

MOTORIST: With the increasing use of bicycles, there is a greater need to exercise care while driving when bicyclists are present to insure their safety. Bicycle riders have no vehicle structure to protect them, and are difficult to see in traffic. Some bicyclists lack skill, and many are too young to have knowledge of all the traffic rules. As a driver, you must be alert and courteous to all bicyclists.

BICYCLISTS: Bicyclists are required to obey traffic signs, signals, and all other traffic laws. Always be alert for other traffic.

Alaska Law AS 28.15.231 (b) states that no points are assessed for traffic violations when using a bicycle. Bicycles must follow the rules of the road per 13 AAC 02.385.

Safety Tips

We can make bicycling safer for all by observing the following safety tips:

  • Always wear a helmet
  • Obey all traffic controls
  • Ride your bicycle near the right-hand edge of the road
  • Never carry another person on your bicycle
  • Always use hand signals when turning or stopping
  • Look out for cars at cross street, driveways, and parking places
  • Be careful when checking traffic and don’t swerve when looking over your shoulder
  • Give pedestrians the right-of-way
  • Keep your bicycle in good condition
  • Always ride carefully

Remember a bicycle is a vehicle. Bicyclists share a complex traffic environment with other larger forms of transportation. Youngsters under age nine lack the physical and mental development to interact safely in that environment.

MOTORCYCLES

Many drivers are having trouble adjusting to the increasing number of motorcycles

appearing on our nation’s streets and highways. Motorcycles number less than 4% of the motor vehicle population in the U.S., yet they are involved in 11% of all motor vehicle deaths. In most motor-cycle crashes, drivers of other vehicles are at fault.

Motorcyclists have the same rights and responsibilities on public roadways as other drivers. However, special conditions and situations often cause greater problems for motorcyclists. Drivers should be aware of these problems, so they can help share the road safely with motorcyclists.

Motorcycles are not easily identified in traffic. Even when drivers see them, many say it’s difficult to judge how far away motorcyclists are or how fast they are traveling. Being alert to this perceptual problem and consciously looking for motorcyclists will help avoid collisions.

Here are a few of the situations that require special attention by motorcyclists and you.

    • Drivers turning left in front of oncoming motorcyclists cause a large percentage of car/cycle crashes. Drivers often fail to pick the cyclist out of the traffic scene, or inaccurately judge the speed of the oncoming motorcycle. LOOK ONCE, THEN AGAIN. MAKE SURE YOU SEE THE MOTORCYCLE AND KNOW ITS SPEED BEFORE YOU MAKE A LEFT TURN.
    • Turn signals do not turn off automatically on most motorcycles. Before you make a turn in front of a motorcyclist, BE SURE THE RIDER IS TURNING and not continuing straight into your path with a forgotten turn signal still blinking.
    • The same four second following distance should be given to motorcyclists as given other vehicles. Following too closely may cause the rider’s attention to be distracted from the road and traffic ahead.

    • Motorcycles need a full lane width like other vehicles. A skilled motorcyclist WILL CONSTANTLY CHANGE positions within a lane to increase their ability to see and be seen, and to avoid objects on the road. Never move into the same lane with a motorcycle, even if the lane is wide and the cyclist is riding to one side. It is not only illegal, it is extremely hazardous.
    • Bad weather and slippery surfaces cause greater problems for motorcycles than for Allow more following distance for motorcyclists when the road surface is wet and slippery. These conditions create stability problems, and skilled motorcyclists will slow down. Also be alert to the problem of glare that rain and wet surfaces create, especially at night.
    • Strong cross winds can move a motorcycle out of its lane of travel. Areas where this can happen are wide open, long stretches of highways and bridges. Large, fast moving trucks sometimes create wind blasts, which, under certain conditions, can move the motorcyclist out of their path of travel. Being alert to these conditions prepares you for a motorcyclist’s possible quick change in speed or direction.
    • Some other conditions that create special problems for motorcyclists are:
    • Road hazards, such as gravel, debris, pavement seams, rain grooves, small animals and even manhole covers, may cause the motorcyclist to change speed or direction.
    • Railroad grade crossings usually cause the motorcyclist to slow down and rise off the seat to help cushion the shock of a rough crossing. The rider also may change direction so the tracks can be crossed head on.
    • Metal or grated bridges cause a motorcycle to wobble much more than a car. An experienced cyclist slows down and moves to the center of the lane to allow room for handling the uneven surface. An inexperienced cyclist may become startled and try to quickly change direction. Be prepared for either reaction.

    Being aware of these situations and following these suggestions can help you share the road safely with motorcyclists. Please see our motorcycle manual for additional information.