Traveling by foot is considered a healthy and environmentally-friendly way to get around, but there’s a downside to walking in areas with traffic—car-pedestrian accidents. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), there were 6,590 fatalities in 2019, the highest in 30 years. The GHSA also found that though fatal pedestrian accidents have significantly increased over the last decade, other traffic deaths have declined by 2%.
Given how dangerous car-pedestrian accidents can be, it’s helpful to know the main reasons for pedestrian accidents. Armed with this information, you’ll know what to look out for and avoid when you’re traveling by foot.
What are the causes of pedestrian accidents?
There are a variety of reasons for pedestrian accidents. Many of these causes involve driver negligence. Here are some of the most common reasons.
1. Distracted driving
One of the most common reasons for fatal pedestrian accidents, distracted driving claimed 2,841 lives in 2018, with 400 of them being pedestrians, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Activities that can distract a driver and cause fatal pedestrian accidents include texting, talking on the cellphone, drinking and eating, and other distracting behaviors, such as programming a GPS or applying makeup.
2. Driver alcohol and drug use
Intoxicated drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol have poor reaction times and faulty judgment when driving. As a result, they are likely to hit and injure or kill pedestrians. According to the CDC, there is one pedestrian death every 50 minutes in the U.S. due to impaired driving from alcohol use.
3. Failure to yield or stop
Drivers who don’t yield to pedestrians possessing the right of way run the risk of hitting walkers. This often happens when drivers roll through stop signs, rather than waiting. Drivers making left-hand turns are the most likely to hit pedestrians. This occurs because walkers don’t tend to be in the driver’s direct line of sight while the driver is trying to navigate a turn.
Driving over the speed limit is a recipe for disaster when it comes to drivers and pedestrians. Getting hit by a speeding car is likely to cause grave, even life-threatening injuries. If you do survive, the possibility of becoming permanently injured or disabled rises significantly.
5. Quiet cars
Battery-operated vehicles may be environmentally friendly, but their quiet engines can be dangerous for pedestrians. Walkers may not hear a car and step onto the street unknowingly. This can result in their getting hit.
6. Dark clothing
While there is no excuse for a driver not paying attention and hitting a pedestrian, wearing dark clothing does make it more difficult for a driver to see you at night. For that reason, it’s suggested that you wear light or brightly colored clothing when walking at night. Even better, put on reflective clothing and carry a flashlight.
7. Inclement weather conditions
Weather conditions that block visibility or impair the ability for a car to stop quickly create conditions in which pedestrians are more likely to get struck by an automobile. If possible, avoid walking during stormy weather conditions, such as snow, rain, ice, and fog. Slick, slippery roads are not a good place for pedestrians.
8. Accidents occurring from backing up
Backing–up accidents are another source of pedestrian accidents. This can occur in parking lots, when a car backs into someone. It can also happen when a car is backing out of a driveway and fails to notice a pedestrian on the sidewalk or street.
9. Unsafe road conditions
At times, the condition of the road can contribute to a pedestrian getting struck. Some roads have inadequate or dangerous walking areas for pedestrians. Such limitations and flaws can impact a driver’s ability to maneuver, as a result putting pedestrians in harm’s ways.
How to prevent pedestrian accidents
Reducing the number of pedestrian accidents calls for a multi-pronged approach. Prevention requires that pedestrians and drivers become more aware of their surroundings and each other. Prevention also necessitates that cities ensure their road infrastructures are safe and well-maintained.
If you are seeking answers to pedestrian accidents what to do in court, you’ve come to the right place. At DC Law, we work to ensure your rights as a pedestrian. Contact us if you’ve been injured as a pedestrian and are seeking next steps.