Traveling on foot is still common for adults and children alike. There are an extraordinary number of pedestrians injured by vehicles each year – close to 80,000 in fact. Thousands of those injured pass away, and others are left on a long road to recovery. Some may never fully heal. It is important as a driver, as well as a pedestrian, to understand just why these accidents can happen. We’ll examine some of the biggest causes of these types of accidents, as well as how you can avoid them no matter which side of the wheel you might be on at the time.
The Dangers of Pedestrian Accidents
One of the worst things about these types of accidents is that the party who is on foot has no real protection from the vehicle and the road. The injuries they sustain, even in a low speed accident, can be catastrophic. Accidents between pedestrians and vehicles can cause severe damage to a person’s body, and they can leave both the driver and the person on foot with psychological trauma.
It’s important to remember that either the driver or the pedestrian could be at fault for the accident. Though the driver needs to be in control of the vehicle at all times and needs to pay attention to the roadways, pedestrian actions can cause issues as well. For example, in today’s world, the proliferation of smartphones is taking pedestrian’s attention from the road and the sidewalk.
What Are the Major Causes?
Left hand turns are still a big problem. The statistics show that there are three times as many people who get hit by cars turning left as those that are turning right. Turning left causes the driver to have to take in far more things visually and mentally than turning right. Safer crosswalks are helping with this, but accidents still happen. Keep in mind that there are still a number of unmarked crosswalks all around the country. There is also a danger in parking lots, as there is not really a designated and separate area for pedestrians and vehicles.
In addition, electronics have become a huge problem. Drivers that are on their phone, whether they are texting or talking, are distracted and become reckless. However, they aren’t the only ones to blame for this. Pedestrians who have phones and other technology tend to pay more attention to their devices than they do their own safety on or around the road.
Over the years, there has been a push to create electronic cars, which tend to be better for the environment. These cars also happen to be quieter because they are running off batteries. In fact, the electronic and hybrid cars are so quiet that they have a higher likelihood of hitting pedestrians because the walkers do not hear them.
Any substances that alter the mind can cause problems as well. Everyone knows that drinking and driving is a terrible idea. However, drinking and walking can be dangerous as well. The statistics show that 37% of fatally injured pedestrians have high blood alcohol concentrations.
Wearing dark clothing can be a problem as well. In the evening, drivers may not be able to see those who are wearing dark cloths as easily, and this increases the risk of an accident.
Other factors that can contribute to the large number of pedestrian accidents include the speed of the vehicle, failure of the driver to stop at stop signs, and distracted or angry driving.
What’s Age Got to Do With It?
Interestingly, age actually does seem to play a factor when it comes to pedestrian accidents. Those who are 65 and older, as well as those who are 15 and younger, tend to be at a much higher risk. Combined, they account for around 34% of the injuries and 27% of the fatalities according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
This makes perfect sense when you think about it. Those who are older tend not to drive as much and spend more time walking. Those who are under 15 aren’t able to drive yet. They also spend more time walking because of this. Of course, other factors apply as well. Seniors can sometimes make bad decisions or believe that they can get out of the way of the vehicle. Children may not always realize the danger that the roads present.
How to Reduce Your Risk as a Pedestrian and a Driver
If you are driving, you always have to assume that there is a pedestrian who is going to cross the street. Being diligent and attentive, while keeping the distractions and road rage at bay, is essential to help cut down on the risk of being in an accident with a pedestrian. Do not drive under the influence and don’t go above the speed limit.
Pedestrians can make some changes as well. Again, it’s all about paying attention. Just because a car is supposed to stop does not mean that it will. If you are crossing the street, make sure that cars are completely stopped before you cross, or that there are no cars coming. If you are going to be walking at night, wear brighter, reflective colors and carry a flashlight with you. You need to be wary in order to be safe.
What If You Have Been in an Accident?
No matter how careful you are, there is always the chance that you could be in an accident at some point. If you or a loved one has been hit by a vehicle, or if you were the driver of a vehicle and you believe the pedestrian was at fault for the accident, you should get in touch with an attorney. The attorney will be able to hear your side of the story and help you figure out how you should proceed with your case. You may be able to collect damages for your injuries, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Talk with an attorney who has experience in this area of the law.