Accidents in which a car hits a pedestrian happen more frequently than many people think, and they are often terribly traumatic for all parties involved. These accidents happen on busy city streets, in quiet neighborhoods, and even on major highways and often result in severe injuries or fatalities. The best way to prevent pedestrian accidents is to know what causes them and practice appropriate safety protocols.
What Are the 9 Primary Causes of Pedestrian Accidents?
When an individual knows the reasons pedestrian accidents occur, it is easier to put measures in place to prevent them. Consider the following causes for accidents involving pedestrians.
- Arterial and multi-lane roadways. Individuals on foot on arterial roads are at great risk of being struck. Drivers often need to contend with tailgaters, heavy traffic, and others who change lanes unsafely. It is best for pedestrians to avoid these roadways, as drivers are already focused on various other dangers.
- Vehicles turning left. Regardless of whether an intersection has crosswalks and crossing signals, pedestrians must always be aware of traffic. Drivers making left turns are often concentrating on on-coming traffic in the intersection and fail to look for pedestrians on the left before they turn.
- Construction. Any pedestrian walking in a construction zone must be hyper-vigilant about paying attention to vehicle traffic. Closed sidewalks, construction equipment, and other hazards may require the individual to walk in a place where drivers don’t expect pedestrians, which can lead to a collision.
- Inappropriate clothing. Pedestrian accidents occur more frequently at night than during daylight hours, as visibility is diminished. This is compounded by the fact that many pedestrians fail to realize they are wearing dark colors, making it nearly impossible for drivers to see them. It is always best to wear light-colored clothing and carry a flashlight when walking after the sun has set. Drivers, too, should be more cautious after dark and look for pedestrians along the road and in intersections.
- Poor weather conditions. When the roads are wet, snow-covered, or icy, it is more difficult for a driver to stop in time to avoid hitting a pedestrian in their path. These road conditions may also cause individuals who are on foot to slip and fall into the path of traffic. Even pedestrians on the sidewalk may be at risk if a vehicle hydroplanes and jumps over the curb. It is imperative for drivers and pedestrians alike to exercise extreme caution during bad weather.
- Reckless motorists and pedestrians. Pedestrians and drivers must focus on their surroundings when they are on the road. Obeying traffic laws and not engaging in reckless behavior is an essential step in avoiding pedestrian accidents.
- Impatience. In many cases, pedestrians have the right-of-way, so drivers should always avoid driving dangerously because they are in a hurry. Even if a pedestrian ignores oncoming traffic and walks across the street against the light, a driver who hits them may be at fault. Additionally, when pedestrians are in a crosswalk, a driver should never attempt to go around them.
- DUI drivers. No one should ever get behind the wheel if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, as they endanger themselves, other drivers, and pedestrians. Pedestrians should be especially wary of impaired drivers at night, as more drivers tend to be traveling home from establishments where they have been drinking.
- Distracted drivers. When drivers adjust the radio, eat in the car, text, or talk on their phones, they are not fully engaged in safe driving. This, just like DUI, puts everyone on the road at risk. However, it is also essential for pedestrians to avoid the same distractions while they are walking.
Additional Safety Measures Pedestrians Can Take
Pedestrian fatalities in the United States increase every year, so it is vital for those who travel on foot to follow a few basic guidelines to avoid tragedy. Keep these tips in mind when walking, running, skating, or riding a scooter.
- Never walk in the street. Individuals who walk in the street cause various problems, such as blocking traffic. Whether there is a lot of traffic or not, it is always best to stay on the sidewalk or as far off the road and onto the shoulder as possible. Even when a pedestrian thinks they are the only one on the road, a car may come out of nowhere, and the driver will likely not expect someone to be walking in the middle of the road.
- Always cross at crosswalks. Drivers are more likely to be on the lookout for pedestrians at crosswalks than anywhere else, so it is best to cross at a designated crosswalk, even if it is a few feet out of the way. In addition, be sure to cross with the light at intersections with traffic signals.
- Do not assume drivers are focused on the road. Perhaps the most important thing to remember as a pedestrian is never assume drivers are looking out for you. When individuals learn to drive, they are typically taught defensive driving, and it is vital for pedestrians to practice defensive walking. The key for pedestrians is to always be aware of surroundings and vehicles on the road, as motorists may not be aware of them.
What Should a Driver Do if They Hit a Pedestrian?
Although drivers sometimes speed off after hitting someone who is on foot, this is the worst possible decision to make, as it only increases the severity of the consequences. It is important to remember that the driver is not always at fault. The details of the situation must be documented in the event of potential criminal or civil liability.
The first thing a driver should do is pull over and render aid to the individual they struck. Following that, police should be called, as well as medical personnel, if necessary. Once help arrives, gather any possible witness statements and contact information, then file a police report. If the pedestrian was hit due to their own negligence, a police report may help the driver fight against any unfounded claims.
Trust the Professionals at Guenard & Bozarth, LLP
If you have been involved in a pedestrian accident, you need the counsel of an experienced attorney to walk you through the legal process. When you are injured due to driver negligence, our team can ease your anxiety while you focus on your recovery. Visit our website today to see how we can help.