Following on from the revelations that walking is the most popular form of exercise among the over 60’s, I thought it an opportune moment to run through a few safety tips when walking in a rural environment. Now most of what I am going to say is commonsense however, it is well worth reiterating it for those absence minded ones amongst us.
Walking in an urban environment is relatively safe in that you have pavements and assisted road crossings (zebra or pelican crossings). The paths are, on the whole, level and stable and generally well-lit. However, the rural environment is totally different and offers up some unique hazards.
For a start the surfaces are unpaved and therefore likely to be uneven. There are no separate footpaths along the roads so there is the constant risk from traffic. There is no street lighting. Vehicles tend to travel at higher speeds in the country than they do in the town. Drivers do not expect to see anyone walking along a country road.
This is a list of do and don’ts when walking in the country:
- Always walk on the right hand side of the road so you are facing oncoming traffic.
- However, if you are approaching a sharp right hand bend with high banks/hedges, move across to the left so the oncoming driver has some chance of seeing you!
- Where ever possible walk on the grass verge but be wary of holes and ditches as well as uneven ground.
- If you have to cross a busy road remember the old ‘Green Cross Code’ and make sure you look Right, Left then Right again before crossing.
- Wear bright clothing or a high visibility waistcoat to improve your chances of being seen by a driver.
- If walking between dusk and dawn always use a torch or headlamp, including a red one facing backwards, and add luminescent strips to your clothing and footwear.
- Remember be seen and be safe and wherever possible follow a footpath rather than a road.
- Alway carry a mobile phone with your ICE set up and also some form of ID.
This list is not a definitive list, there are always other things that you can do. At the end of the day it is our responsibility to make sure that the drivers see us and we keep ourselves safe.