Pedestrian Safety


Pedestrian safety is an issue that affects the entire community; young and old, drivers and walkers, in the day and at night. Many unnecessary injuries and fatalities occur as a result of intoxication or inattentiveness of either the driver or the pedestrian. The roadways should be safe places for everyone regardless of their transportation mode. To reach this goal, laws related to pedestrian safety must be enforced without reservation, and citizens must be educated on the perils facing pedestrians and how they can help make the road a safer environment for those traveling by foot.

Pedestrians, Walk Smart! Drivers, Do your Part!

Look UP, Look OUT! Stay Alert. Walk Smart. Drive Smart.

The Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration (SHA), Maryland counties, and their partners urge everyone to review the rules of the road to Stay Alert and Walk Smart. With an enrolled 880,000 students in Maryland elementary, middle and high schools, partners are working together to help protect the State’s youngest morning and afternoon commuters as more pedestrians, bicyclists, vehicles and school buses take to area roadways.

Parents and students should review the rules of the road, especially for walking to school, biking and waiting for the school bus. Drivers need to remember that children will be traveling to and from school, to always stop for pedestrians, be aware of school buses in the traffic mix, and be prepared for extra traffic and possibly traffic delays.

Walk Smart!

For pedestrians:

  • Use sidewalks and marked cross walks whenever possible.
  • Press the pedestrian signal button and wait for the walk signal.
  • Always stop at the curb and look left, right and left before crossing a street.
  • Watch for cars turning into or leaving driveways.
  • Walk, don’t run across the street.
  • Wear light or bright colored clothing.
  • Pay attention - take off headphones while walking – no texting or playing games.

Drive Smart!

For drivers:

  • Always stop for pedestrians.
  • Obey traffic signs, signals and markings.
  • Don’t run red lights.
  • Observe posted speed limits. Speeding only makes it more difficult to stop for pedestrians.
  • Keep your eyes on the road. It’s illegal to use a handheld phone/device or text while driving.
  • When a school bus stops, the flashing red lights go on and the stop sign flaps come out, drivers in BOTH directions are required to stop. This is the most dangerous time as children are getting on or off the bus.
  • It is against the law to pass a stopped school bus with its flashing red lights activated and stop arm extended.
  • Drivers must be patient. There is simply no room for aggressive driving around a school bus.

Since hundreds of thousands of students walk to and from school bus stops, school bus safety is an important extension of back to school pedestrian safety.

Student’s Safe behavior on and near school buses:

  • Stay five big steps away from the edge of the road when waiting for the school bus. Stand on the sidewalk if one is available.
  • Wait for the school bus driver to say it is safe to get on and off the bus.
  • Walk 5 big steps away from the school bus. If you need to cross the street, move around the crossbar and cross in front of the school bus to the outside edge of the school bus, stop and look left-right-left, look at the school bus driver for a sign that it is okay to cross and safely cross when there is no traffic.
  • Ask the school bus driver for help if you drop something while getting on or off the school bus.

Learn and follow school bus stop laws:

Laws exist to protect children getting on and off the bus AND protect you from a tragedy. Check with your school or police department for more information on Maryland’s laws. Here are some rules:

  • Vehicles must stop when the bus displays flashing red warning lights and extends the stop signal arm. Vehicles may not pass until the flashing red lights and signals are turned off.
  • Vehicles traveling in the same direction as the bus are always required to stop. Vehicles moving in the opposite direction on a divided roadway are also required to stop when there is no dividing median.
  • Never pass on the right side of the bus, where children enter or exit. This is illegal and can have tragic results.
  • Violation of these laws can result in a citation and fine. School bus drivers can report passing vehicles

Remember to Always Look Up | Look Out | Stay Alert & Walk Smart.


Safety Tips

For Pedestrians: Walk Smart

  • Street SmartBe predictable. Stay off freeways and restricted zones. Use sidewalks where provided. Cross or enter streets where it is legal to do so.
  • Crosswalks and traffic lights don’t stop cars! The WALK signal does not mean it is safe to cross. It only means it is your turn to cross. Check to make sure all traffic has come to a stop before crossing.
  • Look before stepping past stopped vehicles—They may be blocking your view of moving traffic.
  • Wear bright clothes to be seen day or night. At night, wear reflective materials.
  • Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, always walk on the side of the road facing traffic.
  • Stand on the side of the road while waiting for the bus and always stand at least 10 feet away from where the bus will stop.
  • Alcohol and drugs can impair your ability to walk safely, just like they do a person's ability to drive.
  • Try to make eye contact with the driver(s) to make sure they see you before you begin to cross
For Drivers: Do Your Part
  • Always come to a complete stop at the stop line.
  • Stop for pedestrians who are in a crosswalk, even if it is not marked. When you stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, stop well back so that drivers in the other lanes can also see the pedestrian in time to stop.
  • Be especially attentive around schools and in neighborhoods where children are active.
  • When you are turning, you often will have to wait for a "gap" in traffic. Beware that while you are watching for that "gap," pedestrians may have moved into your intended path.
  • Be extra attentive and slow down in school and work zones where increased pedestrian presence is likely.
  • Keep your windshield clean for maximum visibility.

Resources and Links