But what about the basic rules of pedestrian safety? Many of us, even those who are concerned about the subject, don't always abide by the rules. Or we grow accustomed to bending them.
Below are tips we compiled with help from City Traffic Engineer Sam Morrissey and the 's own list of pedestrian-safety tips.
"The big issue with pedestrian safety is perception," Morrissey said. "State law is two-sided: It says pedestrians have the right of way when they're in the crosswalk ... but that they shouldn't enter a crosswalk when an oncoming vehicle constitutes an immediate threat. That's very subjective."
Indeed, perception is an issue when it comes to pedestrian safety, as drivers and pedestrians usually don't communicate verbally. But by following these eight simple steps, you should feel more confident that you're being safe, lawful and courteous while walking the streets of Santa Monica:
1. Look both ways before crossing the street. Yes, it's something we're taught as kids, but that doesn't mean we all heed the instruction. Stop, look—and listen too—before crossing the street. Pedestrian safety starts with this simple but critical step.
2. Make eye contact with the driver. This is another simple but often-neglected instruction. If a vehicle is oncoming, don't assume the driver sees you. Drivers are often distracted, especially in an age of smart phones and iPods. Go the extra step and make sure they see you by making eye contact. Don't assume they will yield, though.
3. Don't enter a crosswalk when an oncoming vehicle constitutes an immediate threat. Even if you do make eye contact, that doesn't always mean it's safe to use the crosswalk. Make sure the vehicle is slowing down, or wait for the driver to wave. If there is any indication that the oncoming vehicle poses a threat, don't enter the sidewalk—even if you have the legal right to do so. "Once you do take that step, you're asserting yourself as a pedestrian," Morrissey said.
4. Cross at intersections. It's unsafe to cross mid-block. Also, don't cross from between two parked cars, as drivers might not be able to see you. Don't cross when you see a red hand, even if the stoplight is green.
5. "Be safe and be seen." This is the SMPD's favorite pedestrian-safety catchphrase. Make sure you're visible when using a crosswalk. For example, don't use a crosswalk if it's nighttime and you're wearing all black. "Be a defensive walker," the police department says. "Watch where you're going. Expect the unexpected. Don’t let cars surprise you ... even if the motorist is wrong. You could be dead right." Also, be extra-safe when you're with children.
6. Be predictable. Don't suddenly dart into a crosswalk. Don't meander around a crosswalk. Cross in a straight line. "Make sure motorists understand what you're trying to do," Morrissey said.
7. Obey the rules. Don't cross a street outside the boundaries of a crosswalk. A flashing red hand means pedestrians shouldn't enter the crosswalk. It's only designed to allow enough time for people to finish crossing if they started before the red hand began flashing.
8. Walk in a parking lot as you would on the street. "Use the same rules of caution in a parking lot," the SMPD instructs. "Parking lots can be just as dangerous as the street."
9. Only enter a crosswalk if you feel comfortable doing so. "If you don't feel like you can safely cross a street, don't try to there," Morrissey said. "Be confident knowing the rules of the road, but also know yourself."
More on pedestrian safety in Santa Monica: