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Pedestrians: Look to Live!

Becoming a safe pedestrian means using common sense, paying attention, and developing sound walking skills. These tactics may save your life! The tips listed here can help. Remember: Always "Look to Live."

Look Left, Look Right, Look Left Again, Then Cross


The most important rule for pedestrians is to look before crossing a street. Practice "heads up" defensive walking in order to ensure your safety. Remember, it doesn’t matter who is at fault in a pedestrian/vehicle accident—the pedestrian will always suffer more. Look at least twice for oncoming traffic before stepping off the curb.

Pedestrian Signal Lights

Pedestrian traffic signal lights show words or pictures similar to the following examples:


"Walk" or "Walking Person" pedestrian traffic signal light means it is legal to cross the street.


"Don't Walk" or "Raised Hand" ” pedestrian traffic signal light means you may not start crossing the street.

Flashing "Don't Walk" or Flashing "Raised Hand" traffic signal light means do not start crossing the street because the traffic signal light is about to change. If a pedestrian begins crossing the street after the traffic signal light starts flashing, wait until the pedestrian(s) has crossed the street before proceeding.

pedestrian countdown

Pedestrian traffic signal lights may also show numbers to indicate how many seconds remain for crossing. These pedestrian traffic signal lights allow pedestrians the flexibility to speed up if the crossing phase is about to expire. Countdown signals are becoming more prevalent as cities replace old signals. They give pedestrians a better idea how much time they have to cross a street, and they can be calibrated to suit any particular crosswalk. The old crosswalk signals without countdowns are still very common—so cross carefully.


Pedestrian Phases (also called Pedestrian Scrambles) are a series of crisscross, diagonal crosswalks that allow pedestrians to cross in any direction at the same time, including diagonally across the intersection. These signals stop all vehicle traffic during the scramble phase. Some pedestrian traffic signal lights may provide a beeping or chirping sound or a verbal message. These traffic signal lights are designed to help blind or visually impaired pedestrians cross the street.

At many traffic signal lights, you need to push the pedestrian push button to activate the “Walk” or “Walking Person” pedestrian traffic signal light. If there are no pedestrian signals, obey the vehicle traffic signal lights.


A crosswalk is the part of the roadway set aside for pedestrian traffic. When required to stop because of a sign or signal, you must stop before the stop line, crosswalk, stop sign, or signal. You must yield to pedestrians entering or in a crosswalk. Not all crosswalks are marked. If there is a stop line before the crosswalk, the stop line must be obeyed first. Pedestrians have the right-of-way in marked or unmarked crosswalks. Although pedestrians have the right-of-way, they also must abide by the rules of the road. If you approach a crosswalk while driving, you are required to exercise caution and reduce your speed to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian. You may need to stop to ensure the safety of the pedestrian, as outlined in CVC §21950. Crosswalks are often marked with white lines. Yellow crosswalk lines may be painted at school crossings. Some crosswalks have flashing lights to warn you that pedestrians may be crossing. Look for pedestrians and be prepared to stop, whether or not the lights are flashing.

Parents: Set Good Examples

Pedestrian Parents

Parents have the responsibility of teaching safe driving and pedestrian habits to their children. Teach young children these safe walking rules as early as possible:

  • Always look left, look right, then left again before crossing a street.
  • Never run into the street, especially to chase something.
  • Never cross a busy street without an adult.

As a parent, it’s not enough to just tell your children how to be safe—demonstrate it yourself. Never break traffic laws, especially in front of your children.

Watch For Distracted Drivers, Make Eye Contact

Pedestrian Eye Contact

Always be watchful for distracted drivers. A very effective method for ensuring that a distracted driver sees you is to make eye contact. Do not move into the street until you’ve made this eye contact with the driver. This is the only way to ensure that a distracted driver has been alerted to your presence and will yield the right-of-way.

Wear Appropriate Clothing

Pedestrian Clothing

Always wear appropriate clothing when walking. Wear light colored shirts with reflective material to make yourself as visible as possible at night. Consider carrying a small flashlight if you walk frequently after dark (but be careful not to blind drivers with the light.) Never walk at night wearing dark colored clothing. You can see the road, but chances are motorists will not see you until it’s too late.


Related Links

Mythbusters Find Out Which is More Dangerous: Distracted Driving vs. Drunk Driving

The Mythbusters tackle the issue of distracted driving, and the results just might surprise you. Have a look at the three part series to get a greater appreciation for the dangers of distracted driving.

Graphic Video Warning Against Texting and Driving

The United Kingdom released a graphic video regarding the dangers of texting while driving, with a strong focus towards teenagers.

Texting While Driving Documentary

Excellent documentary produced by AT&T, who is partnering with the City of Glendale, regarding distracted driving.