On the Road with ASIRT _______________________Fall 2023

Walking: Good for You, Good for the Environment

Dear Friends,

The road safety community has long supported walking as a simple and sustainable mode of transportation that offers many benefits for both individual health and the environment.

Walking is a low-impact activity, suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels and doesn’t require special equipment or (often pricey) gym memberships. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is a natural and accessible activity that can improve physical health, reduce stress, and lower the risk of chronic diseases.

Moreover, walking is an eco-friendly alternative to motorized travel, helping to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change. It is one of the greenest ways to get from point A to point B. By choosing to walk rather than drive even for short distances, we can reduce our carbon footprint and contribute to cleaner air and a healthier planet.

Despite the many advantages of walking, however, pedestrian safety has become a growing concern in the United States. Recent statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) indicate that pedestrian fatalities have been on the rise. In 2020, there were 6,205 pedestrian deaths, marking a 4.8% increase from the previous year. This alarming trend continues to escalate. In 2021 there were 7,388 pedestrian deaths, and last year 7,508 pedestrian deaths were recorded.

Clearly, to encourage walking, we must prioritize its safety by enhancing pedestrian infrastructure and advocating for protective measures. Well-constructed and well-maintained crosswalks, pedestrian friendly walking areas, adequate lighting, clear signage, reduced speed limits in areas with high pedestrian traffic, pedestrian detection systems in vehicles, and improved traffic signal timing to prioritize pedestrian safety all help to reduce pedestrian vulnerability. By promoting these measures, we can, in good conscience, encourage walking as a means of transport and thereby create a safer, healthier, greener environment for all.


Rochelle Sobel

Founder and President


Education Abroad Student Perspective

Jacob Unger, a current Princeton junior majoring in history, received a grant from his university this past summer to study in and tour Saudi Arabia and Taiwan.

Meeting with key imams in Saudi Arabia and learning Mandarin in Taiwan necessitated considerable travel in each of the countries. As a passenger, pedestrian, and at times, reluctant driver, Jacob, a former ASIRT intern, was keenly aware of risks involved in negotiating the roads and transportation systems in both countries and shares his observations.

Saudi Arabia:

When preparing for my trip to Saudi Arabia, I asked several people who had previously been to the country whether I should watch out for any potential dangers. They all gave me similar advice: “The country is very safe. Just make sure you’re careful on the roads. Driving there is a nightmare.” Indeed, throughout five weeks in Saudi Arabia, I felt completely safe everywhere except for on the road. The Saudi government has made road safety a top priority as a part of its Vision 2030, but the safety reforms are yet to take hold, leaving Saudi Arabia with a web of disorganized and dangerous roads. Read more about Jacob's experience in Saudi Arabia.


Almost everything about Taiwan feels safer, more organized, and more manageable than the United States. However, its roads are surprisingly more hectic and dangerous than expected. Drivers tend to be aggressive, putting other vehicles and pedestrians at risk. The bulk of the disorganization seems to arise from the abundance of motorized scooters that crowd streets and alleyways throughout the country. Although Taiwan has excellent public transportation, scooters are an extremely popular mode of transportation due to their relatively low cost, small size, and ability to traverse windy roads in Taiwan’s mountainous regions. The scooters themselves seem quite unsafe to drive — they share the roads with cars, trucks, and other scooters, creating many opportunities for crashes. Scooters are less stable and less protected than the other vehicles on the road, leaving drivers more exposed to injury. I witnessed a scooter driver getting thrown off of his vehicle after attempting a routine left turn in slightly wet driving conditions; luckily, the driver only sustained minor injuries, but the event was jarring nonetheless and testified to the potential dangers that the scooters present. Continue reading about Taiwan.

Update: ASIRT Road Safety Reviews (RSR)

New free sample reports became available this spring. Individuals, corporate employees, education abroad students, administrators, faculty, and risk managers can request a sample RSR for Brazil, Czech Republic and Uganda. Email asirt@asirt.org.

Newly published reports include Australia, Botswana, Canada, Chile, Dominican Republic, Namibia, Romania, Scotland, Singapore, South Korea and Trinidad and Tobago.

Current subscribers may request reports or updates to reports for countries of interest.

Plan to join us for the

2023 ASIRT Annual Gala + Raffle

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

6:00 pm Dinner Reception, 7:30 pm Program

American University Washington College of Law, Washington, DC

In addition to the existing and increasing risks associated with road safety, the evolving hazard landscape for students traveling abroad now includes the effects of climate change and extreme weather. Major risk factors for travelers on the roads are compounded by the effects of climate change and weather-related disasters, including flooding, washing out of roads, wild fires, intense heat affecting the ability of drivers to make rational decisions, and disabling GPS technology. 

According to Bill Frederick, Director of Safety at the Guarini Institute at Dartmouth College, “The most concerning aspects of the hazard landscape in study abroad remain the most mundane. Motor vehicle crashes, mental health issues, crime, illness, etc. are the greatest threats to our students and staff. But the risks we are encountering are evolving and doing so with greater and greater rapidity. To continue to operate ‘as safe as it should be’ will require that our risk management evolves as quickly.”

Navigating Climate Change and Extreme Heat in Study Abroad

by Bill Frederick, Director of Safety at the Guarini Institute at Dartmouth College

Of all the lessons from the pandemic, two stood out that we need to apply to the increasingly concerning problem of climate change related natural disasters. After months of unprecedented wildfires, flooding, and extreme heat events, we are just now heading into the peak of the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific tropical cyclone seasons with a recent category 4 storm hitting Florida a couple of weeks after a deadly tropical storm system (the first in 84 years) made landfall in Southern California. While these strategies have application to most of the fastest evolving hazards we face, we’ll focus here on extreme heat.

The first lesson is the Swiss Cheese Model (metaphor) of risk management. Multiple layers of risk management are needed to significantly reduce the likelihood that health, safety, and security events will disrupt our programs or harm our participants. That may not sound particularly profound until you consider that the model became popular only after multiple failures to operate during the pandemic by schools, camps, professional sports teams, and the US military. They had all been managing risk the way we usually do. They put some reasonable measures in place. And then failed. Continue reading this article.

Back-to-School Road Safety Tips

Our kids, grandkids, and neighbors are back in school! This is an excellent time to review road safety with the young people in our lives and to remind ourselves about the rules of the road. Together we can ensure a safe school year for our communities.

Child Safety

Child restraints and seat belts can reduce injury and death by 70 percent.

Small children seated in boosters in the back seat are 45 percent less likely to be injured in a crash than with a seat belt alone. Use a booster seat!

Using seat belts is a learned habit. Be sure to buckle up every time you prepare to travel, and make sure children riding with you see you buckle up. 

School Bus Safety for Bus Riders

Do not try to get on the bus until it has come to a complete stop.

Do not stand up or walk around when the bus is moving.

Limit noise so as not to distract the bus driver.

Stay seated until the bus comes to a complete stop.

Be alert when getting off the bus. Do not cross the street without a clear view of the street and any moving vehicles.

School Bus Safety for Drivers

Following is a refresher about what to do when a school bus stops with flashing lights and its safety arm out.

On a two-lane and multi-lane road, motorists in both directions must stop

On a multi-lane throughway divided by a median strip, only drivers behind the bus/on the same side of the road as the bus must stop. Drivers on the opposite side can proceed with caution. 

On a road with a flat median or a center turning lane, in most communities the rules are the same as for a two-lane road. 

Student Safety

Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, and you have to walk in the road, walk facing traffic so that you can see and be seen by oncoming vehicles.

Avoid walking or crossing where you cannot easily be seen by vehicles.

Cross only at traffic lights, corners, or marked crosswalks. Look left, right, left before crossing. Cross when clear and keep looking.

Don’t enter the street behind a parked car because you may not be seen by moving traffic, and the parked car may back up unexpectedly.

Watch out for cars making turns. Drivers are concentrating on making the turn and may not notice you. 

Make eye contact with drivers before you begin to cross a street. You are at particular risk when you first step off of the curb because drivers may not see you until you are right in front of them. 

Be particularly careful near driveways and alleyways. These areas are hazardous because cars can enter and leave at any time and often do not watch for walkers. 

Be extra aware in parking lots. They can be as dangerous as roads. 

Dress to be seen. Wear bright clothes by day. At night, wear reflective material on your shoes, jacket, backpack, etc. Carry a flashlight.

Don’t be distracted. While walking, don’t wear earbuds or a headset, talk on the phone, text, play games, or listen to music.

When riding a bicycle, always wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet. 

A New Look for ASIRT.org!

ASIRT is excited to announce that we are developing a new website to serve you more efficiently. We apologize for any temporary inconvenience as we design a streamlined site with enhanced features. During this transition, please email asirt@asirt.org for Road Safety Review subscription information and report access.

Road Safety in the News

Increasingly popular E-Scooters pose risks for riders. Read more.

It's back-to-school time. Learn how to create a walking school bus in your neighborhood.

Learn about the new federal proposal that would expand seat belt warning systems to back seats.

Smartphones can be dangerous when distracting but technological advances can also be life-saving. Read about features that could help prevent crashes.

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