Getting hit by an oncoming vehicle as a pedestrian is a real threat. From 2010 to 2019, there was a 45% increase in pedestrian traffic accidents. The number of pedestrians hit and killed in 2019 averaged approximately 17 deaths per day.
Many variables can contribute to an accident. Understanding where such accidents are most likely to happen as well as the causes can help you protect yourself.
Where Pedestrians Are Most at Risk
Pedestrians are more at risk of accidents in urban areas and outside of intersections. They are also most at risk during times of low visibility, specifically at night when it is dark.
States Where Pedestrian Fatalities Are the Highest
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tracks the pedestrian fatality rate by state. In 2019, its data showed that the Southern region of the United States ranked highest for pedestrian deaths. The five highest states for fatalities included:
- New Mexico
- South Carolina
These states appear to be the most dangerous for pedestrians. However, there is a risk in every state for pedestrian fatalities.
Why Vehicles May Hit Pedestrians
There are a number of reasons why drivers may fail to avoid people on the road.
Lack of Awareness While Turning
Especially during high traffic times, drivers may be paying more attention to oncoming traffic when turning than to any pedestrians crossing. Even if you are in a crosswalk and the crossing signal indicates that you should cross, drivers may miss your presence in the street until after they start turning.
Driving While Intoxicated
Driving impaired due to drugs or alcohol can decrease a driver’s reaction time and degrade their ability to assess the driving environment. This impairment can lead to drivers unintentionally hitting pedestrians with their vehicles.
Poor Weather Conditions
Rain and snow can cause conditions that do not allow for effective braking. Such situations can lead to pedestrians being hit while crossing, or even on the sidewalk should the weather conditions contribute to vehicles jumping the curb.
Disobeying Traffic Signs and Laws
Vehicle drivers who speed in residential areas, ignore stop signs and crosswalks, and drive in an all-around reckless manner are dangerous on the road. This type of behavior can increase the risk of hitting a pedestrian.
Texting and Talking While Driving
While any distraction can affect driver awareness and reaction time on the road, texting or talking on a cell phone or conversing with a passenger can cause a driver to look away from the road. Even if it’s only for a few seconds, losing track of traffic and pedestrian activity can be enough time to miss a pedestrian and cause an accident.
Shifting Traffic and Pedestrian Patterns
Construction can significantly affect both traffic-driving patterns and pedestrian walking patterns. Pedestrians could be struck by a driver who was not expecting to see someone walking in a particular part of the street. Additionally, passers-by may be forced to walk on less visible parts of the road, which can increase their chances of being hit.
How Pedestrians May Increase the Risk of Getting Hit
Certain behaviors when out walking can raise the chances of an accident.
Not Using Crosswalks
Walking where vehicles do not expect pedestrians to be can be dangerous. Because drivers are more like to be looking for pedestrians in crosswalks, using them rather than jaywalking can help decrease your chances of being hit.
Wearing Dark Clothing at Night
Visibility for drivers can be low at night, even if there are street lamps or lit crosswalks. Wearing bright-colored or reflective clothing and shoes can increase the chances of being seen during times of lower visibility.
Being Distracted While Crossing the Street
In the same way that being on your cell phone in your car or talking to a passenger can be distracting while driving, so can it be when you are out walking or running. Paying attention to traffic as you cross the street can help you avoid crossing at inappropriate times or in front of a car that may not have been expecting you to cross.
Walking While Intoxicated
Just as driving while intoxicated can lead to a vehicle accident with a pedestrian, so can walking while intoxicated. In 17% of fatal crashes involving a pedestrian, the driver was over the legal limit for blood alcohol content level, while 37% of fatal crashes had the pedestrian over the legal limit.
Typical Populations Hit as Pedestrians
According to Smart Growth America, older individuals, people of color and pedestrians in low-income areas are more likely to be hit and killed. Older people were considered as over the age of 50, with the majority at-risk cohort being those over 75. Native Americans are the more likely people of color to be hit and killed overall, and Black Americans are struck and killed at an 82% higher rate than Caucasians.
Additionally, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data shows that male pedestrians are over 70 percent more likely to be killed in vehicle crashes. The fatality rate for male pedestrians is more than twice the rate of female pedestrians overall.
How To Help Young Pedestrians Avoid Getting Hit
Children are easily distracted and can become so excited that they ignore their surroundings. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research indicates that approximately 19% of traffic deaths from youths under 14 were in pedestrian accidents. When walking with children, some simple practices can help improve their awareness.
Walk With the Child
Whenever possible, accompanying the child while walking is an effective way to support safety. Supervision allows you to monitor and encourage your child’s awareness and physically intervene if necessary.
Require Group Walking
It may not always be possible for you to be with your child each time they are out walking. Directing kids to stay with a group can increase their chances of being seen by a vehicle when crossing the street.
Give Reminders of Safe Habits
Even if your child claims to understand safe pedestrian habits, you should frequently remind them. Keeping the reminders to short phrases that are easy to remember and implement can cement them to memory. Five examples of safe habits explained simply and succinctly include:
- Before you cross the road, look left first, then right and left again.
- Make eye contact with the driver or rider before crossing the street.
- Do not run across the street.
- If there is a crosswalk, use it.
- Follow the crosswalk signals while still looking left, right, left.
The more often you remind your child, the higher the chance the behavior becomes a habit. Once a habit, the safety encouraged by these practices is more likely to be maintained whether you are there or not.
Purchase Reflective Wear
There are many different ways to add reflective components to your child’s everyday wear. For example, reflective shoes, backpacks or clothing are easy ways to make your child more visible in darker conditions. You can also purchase reflective tape to put on lunch boxes and other items to increase visibility as a pedestrian.
What To Do if You Are Hit as a Pedestrian
If you experience an accident as a pedestrian, you can hire a lawyer to help you file a claim to receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, and represent you in court if necessary. If you were hit by a vehicle while on foot and need experienced legal representation, Cellino Law is standing by to support you. Contact the team today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.