MURPHY — While many comedians have made jokes about various animals crossing the road, getting safely across a busy thoroughfare is no laughing matter, says Murphy Police Chief Arthur “Trey” Cotten.


“Serious injuries can result from carelessness and inattention,” he said. “Pedestrians are no match for cars and trucks. People crossing streets can be extremely vulnerable.”


And, while pedestrians are constantly being urged to watch for moving vehicles, it’s also incumbent on drivers to be vigilant for the possibility of pedestrians entering traffic.


“The safety of everyone is our primary concern,” said the chief. “But we have to depend on drivers and pedestrians to practice safety on our streets and roadways.”


With the advent of mobile electronic devices in almost everyone’s hands, the temptation for distraction is extremely high, for both the pedestrian and the driver.


“Other than in school zones, we do not have what’s become known as a ‘distracted driver’ ordinance on the books,” he said. “So while it is not against the law to talk on a phone or interact with a mobile device while driving, we strongly encourage drivers to put away their devices or use a hands-free system while behind the wheel.”


At the same time, pedestrians who are consumed with their mobile phones, either reading, texting or talking, also run the risk of putting themselves in danger. This is especially true when either crossing a street, walking across entry and exit driveways at commercial establishments or walking near parked cars.


“Attention to surroundings, for both the driver and the pedestrian, will go a long way in preventing accidents,” Cotten said. “Simple, common-sense habits like drivers safely pulling over and stopping at a safe location to respond to a text or call, or pedestrians stopping when interacting with their devices all help. But most of all, looking, listening and giving full attention to what’s happening in their immediate area is the best defense against vehicle-pedestrian accidents.”


Of course, wearing bright colors while walking during the day, and reflective or light colored clothing at night are extremely helpful. Reflective buttons and horn or bell on bicycles are also helpful. When crossing a street, looking left, right and left again can also ensure safety.


Drivers should always concentrate on their surroundings, and stop at the appropriate stripe on the street.


“It comes down to making sure that both drivers and pedestrians are paying attention and reacting to the situation at hand,” added the chief. “It’s no joking matter when a pedestrian is hit by a car or truck. Physical wounds can heal, but the trauma of this kind of accident can have lasting consequences.”