6 Things to Know About Pedestrian Accidents

Certain places, like New York City, are more likely to see pedestrian accidents than other areas simply because there are more people walking. Even outside of major cities, though, pedestrian accidents can occur. 

Drivers aren’t always looking for or watching for pedestrians, and if you’re hurt by a car when you’re walking, the risk of serious injuries goes up a lot because you have nothing protecting you. 

The following are key things to know about pedestrian accidents and safety. 

1. The Statistics

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 7,000 pedestrians were killed in crashes involving a vehicle in 2020. That equates to around one death every 75 minutes. One in six people who died in 2020 because of crashes were pedestrians. 

An estimated 104,000 visits to emergency departments because of pedestrian crash-related injuries were reported in 2020. 

Some groups are at greater risk than others for being involved in a pedestrian accident. Adults who are 65 and older make up around 17% of the U.S. population but accounted for 20% of pedestrian deaths in 2020. 

One in five children under the age of 15 killed in collisions were pedestrians in the same year, and 17% of people 15 and older killed in crashes were pedestrians. 

This alarming rate requires pedestrian accident attorneys to stay abreast of emerging regulations and legal strategies in order to ensure their clients receive the justice they deserve for pedestrian-related injuries. Unfortunately, pedestrian rights have been a long-unprotected minority and pedestrian accident attorneys have had to fight back against that populism. With up-to-date facts and figures on pedestrian accidents, these specialized attorneys can help protect pedestrians from further tyranny or mistreatment from those that threaten their safety – whether it be motorists, insurance companies, property owners, or others who may be considered at fault.

The risk of pedestrian crash deaths is significantly higher for people who use wheelchairs. The death rate was 36% higher for people who use wheelchairs than the mortality rate for the overall population. 

2. Major Causes

Some of the major causes of pedestrian accidents include:

  • Alcohol: Alcohol was involved by the driver or the pedestrian in almost half of accidents leading to a pedestrian death in 2019. In these accidents, around 13% involved a driver whose blood alcohol concentration or BAC was at least 0.08 grams per deciliter. That’s the level that’s illegal for adults who are 21 and older in all states. Around 32% of these accidents involved a pedestrian with at least a 0.08 BAC. 
  • Speed: Higher speeds increase the likelihood of a pedestrian being hit by a car. Higher speeds can also make the injuries more severe if a collision occurs. 
  • Location: Most pedestrian deaths are in urban areas and on parts of the roadway that are away from intersections because these are places where cars and vehicles are more likely to be traveling at higher speeds. Pedestrian deaths are also more likely to happen at night. 

Other causes include distracted driving, not yielding the right of way to pedestrians at crosswalks, and disobeying traffic signals or signs. 

3. Duty of Care

Drivers and pedestrians have to follow the rules of the road and are expected to exercise reasonable care. Drivers have a special duty of care for kids. Children between the ages of 5 and 9 are at the highest risk of being hit by a car—they’re smaller, so they’re less visible, and they’re less predictable. 

The law puts a significant duty of care on people when it comes to children if they’re driving. 

The presence of kids is a warning to exercise greater care. This means that if you’re behind the wheel, you have to show a greater level of care when you’re driving near residential areas, schools, and parks. 

Pedestrians are responsible for exercising a reasonable level of care for their own safety too. A pedestrian might be found to have contributed to an accident if they didn’t exercise their duty of care. 

Ignoring the walk signal at an intersection, disrupting traffic flow, darting in front of a vehicle, or not using marked crosswalks are some of the factors that most often contribute to pedestrian negligence. 

4. Common Injuries in Pedestrian Accidents

Some of the most common, specific injuries that pedestrians can sustain when they’re involved in accidents and collisions with vehicles include:

  • Injuries to the lower extremities. The first parts of a pedestrian’s body that are most likely to come in contact with a vehicle are the lower body. As much as 50% of pedestrians are injured in the lower part of their body. This can include broken bones, muscle and ligament trauma, and pelvic fractures. 
  • Face, neck, and head injuries. The face, neck, or head may be the second general area of the body affected. This part of a pedestrian’s body might hit a windshield or car hood. Around 38% of pedestrians involved in collisions are thought to suffer injuries to their face, neck, or head, including jaw fractures, skull damage, and brain injuries. 
  • The upper extremities. If a pedestrian hits the hood of a car or is tossed over the vehicle, they may experience an upper extremity injury. 

Any injury when someone is a pedestrian can be severe and life-threatening. 

5. How Drivers Can Be Mindful of Pedestrians

If you’re behind the wheel, you have an important role in helping keep pedestrians safe. You should:

  • Always be watching for pedestrians
  • Use additional caution if you’re driving in situations where it’s harder to see, such as when the weather’s bad, or it’s dark. 
  • If you’re entering a crosswalk or turning, slow down and be ready to stop. 
  • Yield for pedestrians in crosswalks. Make sure you’re stopping a good distance back from a crosswalk because this will give other vehicles the chance to see a pedestrian crossing, allowing them to also stop. 
  • Don’t pass a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk. 
  • Follow the speed limit. 
  • Be careful when you’re backing up. 
  • Never drive under the influence. 

6. Tips for Being Safe as a Pedestrian

The following are ways that pedestrians can improve their own safety:

  • Make sure you’re always following the rules of the road
  • Obey signals and signs
  • When sidewalks are available, use them
  • If there isn’t a sidewalk, face the traffic when you’re walking, and be as far away from traffic as you can
  • Wait until you’re at a crosswalk or intersection to cross the street
  • If you can’t get to a crosswalk or intersection, cross at an area that’s well-lit and affords you the best view of traffic. 
  • Watch for cars that are entering or leaving driveways or backing up if you’re in a parking lot.

Finally, avoid drugs and alcohol. They impair your walking abilities and judgment. 

Photo by cody lannom on Unsplash