Lots of people in urban areas are abandoning their vehicles and eschewing public transportation in favor of walking wherever they need to go — and that’s awesome. Unfortunately, it’s also more dangerous than it needs to be.

Many urban areas were designed with speed of transportation in mind. Adding in crosswalks, designated bike lanes, closed-off streets in shopping areas and other innovations that could keep everyone safer were often afterthoughts. Confusing road signs, congested traffic and distracted drivers make the issue worse.

If you’re heading out for a walk in your city, the first steps you take should be to protect yourself from injury. Here are some safety tips for pedestrians:

  • Stick to sidewalks. If that’s not possible, make sure that you’re walking against traffic, not with it, so that you can see oncoming vehicles (and help them see you).
  • Stay alert. Make eye contact with drivers, particularly if you have to step into the road at an intersection. Don’t assume someone will stop just because a light turns red or tells you to walk.
  • Use marked intersections. As much as possible, try to cross in lighted areas and at marked crossings — although those can be difficult to find in some areas.
  • Wear bright clothing. Bright colors and white clothing can help you stand out against the drab background, especially in low light. Reflective tape and a flashlight can also help after dark.
  • Never step out into a street close to a bus, sports utility vehicle, car or other obstacle. The drivers in the next lane over won’t be able to see you coming, and they may not slow down or stop as they should.

If you’re struck by a motor vehicle while walking, your injuries could be life-threatening or permanent. If the driver of the vehicle was negligent, you have every right to seek compensation for your losses.