To the Editor:

A recent article in the AARP Bulletin showed that after years of sharp decline, pedestrian deaths have increased dramatically since 2009. A more that five-fold increase in smartphone use during that time may have lead to increased driver distraction.

Roadside pedestrians are safer if they can see cars coming toward them. Cars coming from behind leave the pedestrian little opportunity to react. Common sense tells us to walk or run facing traffic.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (nhtsa.gov) 10 Walking Safety Tips include: “If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.” In addition, NHTSA cautions “Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach to make sure you are seen.”

This can only be done when facing traffic. As I walk the streets of Ridgefield, the majority of pedestrians I encounter are walking or running in the same direction as traffic. This behavior puts them at greater risk of an unfortunate vehicular interaction.

A Stamford pedestrian was recently struck and killed by a vehicle while walking along the road. Please follow good safety practice: protect yourself and others by facing traffic as you walk or run along roads and encourage your family and friends to do the same.

John Olson

Ridgefield, Sept. 27