Take a distracted pedestrian and an impaired driver on the road and you have a recipe for disaster. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pedestrian accidents involving a vehicle accounted for more than 7,000 pedestrian deaths in the United States in 2020. In addition, there were 104,000 ER visits to treat pedestrian injuries. The problem is deadly serious for everyone on our roads.
It’s critical to understand the causes of these accidents as well as how to prevent pedestrian fatalities.
Common Causes of Accidents Involving Pedestrians
Here is the most up-to-date information you need to stay safe and avoid injuring or killing someone.
Alcohol was involved for the driver and/or the pedestrian in 46% of all crashes that resulted in a pedestrian death in 2019. About one-third of those crashes involved an impaired pedestrian, while one-tenth involved an impaired driver.
Higher vehicle speeds increase the likelihood of a pedestrian being hit by a car as well as the injury being more severe. When a car is going faster, the driver may not have the time required to react to an upcoming pedestrian and the pedestrian may not have adequate time to move out of the way.
Distracted pedestrians can be just as dangerous, though:
Inattention at any level, drivers or pedestrians, is an invitation to disaster.
Failure to follow traffic rules and laws
A pedestrian has the expectation that the vehicles around them will follow traffic laws. Risks to those on foot increase dramatically when drivers make illegal u-turns, fail to follow posted traffic signs, and disregard speed limits, contributing to pedestrian accident risks.
Pedestrians need to use crosswalks and obey crosswalk signals to ensure the vehicles around them know what to expect, too.
Vehicles turning left, whether it is at a crosswalk or intersection or not, hit three times as many people as cars turning right. Drivers focus their attention on cars coming their way as they wait for a clearing to turn. Pedestrians often get lost in this scenario, so are hit more often.
New drivers lack the experience to keep track of all the moving parts involved in driving: traffic laws, signals, and road signs, as well as pedestrians. They also don’t have the confidence to drive in all conditions, yet. It’s a lot to learn, so more mistakes are made by inexperienced people behind the wheel.
Now that we’ve explored some of the most common causes of vehicle-pedestrian crashes, let’s turn to prevention.
As a pedestrian, here are common sense ways to keep yourself safe when walking near traffic:
This is especially true at times of low light: dawn, dusk, and after-dark. Increase your visibility and wear reflective clothing and carry a flashlight.
As tempting as it is, don’t use earbuds or headphones while you’re out walking. Stay focused on what’s happening around you.
If there are sidewalks, use them! If you must walk in the street with cars, face traffic until you can get back on the sidewalk or shoulder. If none of this is possible, find other places to walk. Stay out of the roadway!
Using alcohol or drugs (or both) will impair judgment and coordination. You might not be steady on your feet and step into the path of a car or fall on a curb as a vehicle makes a turn. Don’t drink (or indulge in drugs) and walk!
Drivers have an equal responsibility to prevent injuring pedestrians:
Expect the unexpected from pedestrians. Don’t assume they see or hear you. Plan on them doing what you know they shouldn’t do. Always give them the right of way.
Injuring or killing a pedestrian isn’t worth intoxication or drug use. Take a taxi, ask for a ride from a friend, or stay where you are.
It’s become one of the leading causes of all accidents. Even talking on a hands-free device will distract you from making split-second decisions behind the wheel. Put the phone down. The trunk is a good place for it, if necessary.
If you have been involved in an auto-pedestrian accident, don’t wait until it is too late to seek the justice you deserve. Set up a free case consultation with a law firm and experienced accident attorneys to discuss your accident and obtain legal advice and representation. Contact our office today.