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Why Pedestrians Are Struck By Motor Vehicles

In the United States each year, 70,000 pedestrians are injured in automobile crashes.  Additionally, 4,000 pedestrians die in automobile collisions.  Although motor vehicle drivers must follow the rules of the road, (yet sometimes don’t), surprisingly, the majority of pedestrian / automobile accidents are a result of the actions of pedestrians.

Accidents involving a vehicle and a pedestrian frequently involve serious injuries or death.  The injuries result in significant medical expenses and lost time from work.  Some cases involve permanent injuries that affect a person’s ability to lead a normal life.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a report on pedestrian safety.  According to that report, male pedestrians are more likely to be injured or die in an automobile crash than female pedestrians.  The rate of death of pedestrians also goes up with age.  Pedestrians ages 15-29 years old are more likely to require treatment in an emergency rooms for crash-related injuries than other age groups.  Among children ages 14 and under, one in five traffic deaths is a pedestrian death.  Children as pedestrians are at greater risk of death or injury because of their lack of experience with traffic rules, their smaller size, and the inability to judge speeds and distance.

In general, drivers have a duty to exercise reasonable care under the existing circumstances.  If a driver fails to do so, it may be negligence.  Pedestrians, however, also have a duty of care.

Improper Lane Use

Pedestrians should always use sidewalks when available.  If there are no sidewalks available, pedestrians should walk in the opposite direction of traffic (facing traffic), on the shoulder of the road as far from the roadway and as close to the unpaved surface as possible.  Pedestrians should also follow any and all traffic signs.

Unmarked Crosswalks

Pedestrian-automobile accidents frequently occur at intersections.  Unmarked intersections can be particularly hazardous.  Pedestrian use of marked crosswalks reduces the risk of a collision dramatically.  This is particularly true near parking lots, typically because drivers are focused on finding parking, not looking for pedestrians.  Pedestrians are cautioned to not cross the street in the middle of a block.  Drivers are not expecting pedestrians to step out between cars.  This increases the chance for a pedestrian / car accident.

Left-Hand Turns

Vehicle-pedestrian accidents also occur at marked, signaled crosswalks.  Three times as many pedestrians are hit by cars turning left than by cars making a right turn.  The belief is that this is because both the drivers and the pedestrians are looking elsewhere.  The drivers are trying to get through the intersection and the pedestrians are looking forward.  If possible, make eye contact with a turning driver to confirm they can see you.

Quiet Cars

Quiet cars present many advantages.  First of all, they tend to either be hybrid vehicles or completely battery operated.  This can reduce pollution and other emissions and reduce costs of gasoline.  They also reduce noise pollution.

However, quiet cars come with a trade-off in the form of danger to pedestrians.

Studies have found that the chances that a pedestrian will be hit by a quiet car climbs 40 percent when comparing quiet cars to traditional vehicles.  In residential zones, the risk increases by 50 percent.

The problem with quiet cars is that pedestrians are less likely to hear the vehicles and get out of the way.  The silent cars are a significant contributing factor and lead to an increase in accidents.

Electronic Devices

Electronic devices distract not only drivers, but pedestrians as well.  Using cell phones and music devices while walking distracts pedestrians, making them vulnerable to an accident with an automobile.  Texting and walking can also be very dangerous.  Finally, playing games on a cell phone can be a deadly distraction.  It is important that you focus on what you are doing, whether driving or walking.  The rate of driver and pedestrian accidents continues to rise because of smartphones and distracted driving and walking.

Wearing Dark Clothing

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 50 percent of pedestrian accidents happen on the weekend and 70 percent of those accident happen at night.  Dark clothing makes pedestrians hard to see.  Instead, pedestrians should wear brightly colored clothing after dark.  Reflective clothing after dark is of great benefit.  This is particularly true when street lighting is poor.  A flashlight is also a good idea for pedestrians at night.  Remember, your cellphone likely comes equipped with a flashlight feature.

Arterial Roadways

Multilane, high-speed roadways are becoming increasingly common in cities to help vehicles get to and from the freeways.  Where walking and bus stops are common and cars are travelling at a high rate of speed, accidents and fatalities are a problem.  A report by the University of North Carolina’s Highway Safety Research Center in 2010 stated that most urban pedestrian- automobile accidents occur on these roadways.  If possible, pedestrians should avoid walking on such streets.  Drivers need to be on the lookout for pedestrians on the side of the road, even though this can be difficult.

Alcohol and Drug Use

Consumption of alcohol and drugs are a problem not just for drivers, but for pedestrians as well.  According to the IIHS, 37 percent of fatally injured pedestrians have a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.08 percent, the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle.  This compares to intoxicated drivers who are involved in 13 percent of pedestrian collisions.  Pedestrians need to be aware of the dangers of drug and alcohol consumption, even though he or she is not driving.

Driver Speeding

Pedestrians expect drivers to abide by the speed limit on the road.  They base their road crossing decisions on this.  If a driver is speeding, the situation is unpredictable and creates dangers for pedestrians.  Speeding also increases the possibility a driver will lose control of his or her vehicle.  Driver speeds must also account for the weather conditions at any moment.

Contact the lawyers at the Bader Firm

If you have been injured in a car crash, as a pedestrian, a driver, or a passenger, our  skilled personal injury lawyers in Atlanta are available to discuss your case with you.  You may be entitled to compensation, including lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.  Contact us today.

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