The untimely death of 52-year-old Stephen Bale several weeks ago, on Nov. 25, 2019, is a stark reminder that with the increase in local traffic, especially in the city of
Fenton, extreme caution is needed for the safety of pedestrians — and handicapped citizens.
It becomes even more critical when the snow and icy conditions of winter are upon us.
Bale died as a result of injuries sustained when his wheelchair was struck by an SUV on Owen Road, west of U.S. 23 in Fenton. On Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, Bale was crossing from the north side of Owen Road to the south side without using the crosswalk, police said. He died the next day at the hospital. Neither speed nor alcohol were factors in the crash.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), at some point in the day, everyone is a pedestrian, and pedestrian fatalities remain high. There was a more than 3 percent increase in the number of pedestrians killed in traffic crashes in 2018, totaling 6,283 deaths — the most deaths since 1990.
NHTSA offers the following tips for pedestrian safety:
• Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
• Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available.
• If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
• Keep alert at all times; don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road.
• Whenever possible, cross streets at crosswalks or intersections, where drivers expect pedestrians. Look for cars in all directions, including those turning left or right.
• If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross safely; continue watching for traffic as you cross.
• Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach to make sure you are seen.
• Be visible at all times. Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.
• Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways or backing up in parking lots.
• Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your abilities and your judgment.
Tips for drivers
Drivers are reminded to turn on vehicle headlights at dusk and be vigilant in looking out for cyclists and pedestrians. Additionally, drivers should:
• Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks.
• Slow down and obey the posted speed limit.
• Yield to pedestrians and cyclists when turning.
• Look before opening your door.
• Be careful when passing stopped vehicles.
• Allow three feet when passing bicyclists.