Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
A 70-year-old woman suffered a head injury after being hit by a police cruiser while walking her dog. The police officer was reportedly attempting to make a right turn when the accident occurred. The officer was reportedly talking on the phone with a co-worker about work matters as she began making the turn and the light was red. The intersection had a posted sign stating that right turns were not permitted on red lights. The police report stated that the woman walking her dog would have had a walk light at the time.
Fortunately, the pedestrian in this case was treated and released from the hospital. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that accidents involving motor vehicles and pedestrians result in around 6,000 fatalities a year, with a pedestrian dying every 88 minutes in the U.S. as a result of being hit by a vehicle.
Why Do Pedestrian Accidents Occur?
Pedestrian accidents almost always involve either the driver or the pedestrian failing to pay attention to the conditions around them.
Here are some of the top reasons why people get hit by cars:
- Improper lane use: Non-intersection accidents involving pedestrians often occur when a pedestrian is walking along the road due to a lack of sidewalks in the area or pedestrians that move to the roadway due to bicycle use on the sidewalks. After a rash of recent auto vs. pedestrian crashes, including one that killed a 24-year-old pregnant woman and a toddler, the state highway patrol had tips for both pedestrians and drivers for safely sharing the road. One of the tips involved where pedestrians should walk. If the sidewalk is unavailable and pedestrians are required to walk on the road, they should walk against traffic rather than going with the flow of traffic. By walking in an opposing direction to traffic, it gives both the pedestrian and the driver a greater opportunity to see each other.
- Unmarked crosswalks: Clearly marked crosswalks are necessary to protect pedestrians at intersections. Intersections that not only feature a marked crosswalk but also signal lights indicating when pedestrians should cross are even safer in most cases, though as the story above indicates, other factors can contribute to this type of accident. The highway patrol noted that, if a pedestrian must cross in an unmarked area, they should bear in mind that they always have to yield to oncoming traffic and that establishing eye contact with the driver before crossing the road will improve safety.
- Left turns: Three times as many pedestrians get hit by left-turning drivers than by those making right turns. One major reason for this is that when drivers are turning left, they’re busy negotiating the turn while the pedestrian is looking forward, meaning that neither the driver or the pedestrian is looking for the other. Area business owners and employees in the Old Greenwich business district in Connecticut expressed concern about an intersection after an accident there caused serious injuries to a 62-year-old pedestrian. The accident occurred as the woman was walking through the busy intersection, and was struck by a vehicle making a left turn. Residents stated that the area was very congested, with parked cars all along the roadway that hamper visibility and additional distractions provided by the three-year construction project at the nearby train station.
- Distractions: Distractions are dangerous whether it’s the driver engaging in them or the pedestrian. Distractions when driving can draw the driver’s eyes away from the roadway, making them less likely to see a pedestrian. Pedestrian distractions can result in a person not being aware of potential hazards that could be heading their way. In the Des Moines case, the police officer was talking on the phone while attempting to complete a right turn. In that instant of distraction, the officer not only missed the fact that there was a red light, but also that there was a person in the crosswalk who had the right-of-way.
- Hybrids: Hybrid vehicles are often quiet, which means that the pedestrian is less likely to hear an approaching vehicle by the sound of its motor and therefore has less chance to take evasive actions to avoid being hit. This is an especially serious problem for pedestrians with vision problems.
- Less visibility: Pedestrians who wear dark clothing and walk at night on poorly-lit roadways are more likely to be hit by a car than those wearing bright clothing and walking during the daylight hours simply because the driver is less likely to see them. 70 percent of pedestrian accidents happen at night. Police, for example, announced that there would likely not pursue charges against a van driver who struck and killed a 63-year-old pedestrian. The pedestrian was wearing dark clothing and walking on a poorly lit street about 45 minutes after sunset when he was hit. The driver told police that he did not even see the man until the instant when he struck him.
- Alcohol impairment: Like distractions, alcohol impairment is a risk factor for both the pedestrian and the driver in this type of accident—in fact, 37 percent of pedestrians killed in motor vehicle accidents had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher. Thirteen percent of motorists involved in fatal pedestrian accidents were over the legal limit of 0.08 BAC.
What Are the Riskiest Places and Times for Pedestrian Accidents?
According to recent NHTSA statistics, there are specific places and times where pedestrians are at a higher risk of accidents. Here is more information on the most dangerous places and times to walk.
- When it comes to states where most auto vs. pedestrian accidents occur, Texas leads the nation in this type of accident, with 3,722 pedestrian accidents in one recent year. The states with the highest numbers of fatal pedestrian accidents include California, with 858; Florida, with 654; and Texas, with 607.
- Nighttime was the most common time for pedestrians to be hit by cars, with more than a quarter of all pedestrian accidents taking place between 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., followed by 24 percent from 9 p.m. to midnight. Weekend nights between 9 p.m. to midnight were slightly more dangerous than the weekend evening hours of 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- 70 percent of pedestrian accidents don’t occur at the intersection, 18 percent do occur at the intersection, and about 9 percent occurred in locations such as the shoulder of the road, parking lanes, sidewalks, and bicycle lanes.
- 75 percent of pedestrian accidents occur in darkness, 21 percent occurred during daytime, and 2 percent occurred at dawn, with another 2 percent occurring at dusk.
- In summertime, pedestrian accidents most commonly occur at later hours of the night, while the accidents occurring in the winter months happen most often in the evening.
Who Is Most Likely to Be in a Pedestrian Accident?
The highest number of fatal pedestrian accidents involved pedestrians between the ages of 50 and 59, accounting for 42 percent each. More facts about the people most likely to be involved in pedestrian accidents include:
- Nearly one-fifth of children aged 14 and younger who died in traffic-related accidents were pedestrians.
- Children aged 9 and under were the least likely age group to become involved in a pedestrian accident.
- 20 percent of all pedestrians killed in traffic-related accidents were over the age of 65.
- The average age of all pedestrians killed in traffic-related accidents was 47—the average age has trended older over the past decade.
- 70 percent of the pedestrians killed in traffic accidents were male.
- The rate of males killed in pedestrian accidents per population of 100,000 was double that of females.
- The single highest rate of pedestrian deaths by age and gender is males aged 80 and older.
Types of Pedestrian Accidents
A pedestrian accident can occur in several ways, including when:
- A vehicle makes a left or right turn into the path of a pedestrian without yielding.
- A driver is backing up from a parking lot or driveway and fails to see a pedestrian crossing his or her path.
- A motorist runs a stop sign or a red light and strikes a pedestrian in the intersection.
- A motorist fails to stop when behind a school bus with flashing lights or the stop arm deployed and strikes a pedestrian crossing the road.
- The pedestrian is partially across the road when the signal changes, trapping him or her in the crosswalk, and a driver fails to yield the right-of-way.
Can Pedestrian Accidents Be Prevented?
Generally, drivers can prevent all accidents with pedestrians if they follow the tips below.
- Anticipate the presence of pedestrians everywhere, as they truly can be anywhere and looking out for their safety is a shared responsibility.
- Be particularly cautious in darkness and inclement weather as these conditions make it harder to see pedestrians.
- Slow down and be prepared to stop when approaching or turning through a crosswalk.
- Not only yield for pedestrians in the crosswalk, but stop far enough away from the crosswalk that other drivers can see them and yield for them as well.
- Don’t ever pass cars while going through the crosswalk, as they may be slowed or stopped to allow pedestrians to cross.
- Follow the speed limit. Remember that increased speed results in a decrease in time you have to perceive hazards on the roadway and also increases the distance your car requires after you depress the brakes to come to a safe stop.
- Be sure to obey traffic laws, particularly reduced speed limits near school zones.
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and limit the distractions in your vehicle. If you need to make a work-related or emergency phone call while on the road, pull over into a parking lot or well off the road to do so.
- Make sure to check every direction, including your blind spots, before backing up to ensure that no pedestrians are crossing your path.
- Use particular caution when driving behind a school bus. Never pass a bus when it has its red lights flashing or its stop sign out as children are probably crossing the road to board or get off the bus.
Pedestrians can’t control what motorists do, but they can decrease their chances of an accident by following these guidelines.
- Be predictable for motorists. Obey all traffic rules, signs, and signals.
- Sidewalks are available, they are generally safer places to walk than the roadway. If no sidewalks are available, it is safest to walk facing opposing traffic and as far away from traffic as possible.
- If you must cross a street and a sidewalk or intersection aren’t available, choose a well-lit area where you have ample ability to see traffic approaching from all directions. Wait until there is a gap in traffic before attempting to cross.
- Never assume that a driver can see you. Attempt to establish eye contact with the driver to ensure that he or she is aware of your presence.
- Be as visible as possible, wearing bright clothes during the day and using reflective clothing and a flashlight at night.
- Be particularly cautious of crossing driveways and parking lots, where someone may be backing out or pulling out.
Were You Hit by a Car When Walking? Call Our Pedestrian Accident Law Firm Now
If you were injured in a pedestrian accident, our experienced pedestrian accident lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, would like to discuss whether you can recover compensation for your injuries.
“If it were not for the integral legal team of experts at Jacoby & Meyers I would not be where I am today with my recovery. I highly recommend hiring Jacoby & Meyers should you ever find yourself injured in an accident, and an individual or company needs to be held accountable for their negligence.” -C.J.
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