According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), roughly 4,300 pedestrians died in motor vehicle accidents in 2010 and another 70,000 endured various injuries. Five years later, these figures increased: 5,376 pedestrian fatalities and 129,000 emergency room treatments for non-fatal injuries.
Why the spike in numbers? The NHTSA attributes it to distracted driving. No matter the reason, pedestrians hit by a car are 1.5 times more likely to be killed than the vehicle’s occupants, so this increase is a serious safety issue.
For 72 percent of accidents involving pedestrians, the conditions are similar: At night, in an urban area and on an arterial road, rather than at an intersection. Beyond these big-picture commonalities, the following factors increase your risk of being struck.
Figures show that pedestrians at both ends of the age spectrum – children and the elderly – are more likely to get hit by a vehicle. Data from AARP indicates that individuals over age 65 have a greater chance of being struck and killed. Out of all related fatalities, 20 percent involve senior citizens.
Unfortunately, children are not far behind. According to NHTSA figures from 2010, 19 percent of all fatal pedestrian accidents involved children ages 5 to 9. For those who experienced injuries, nearly a quarter of the pedestrians were 16 years old and under. As of 2015, 20 percent of all traffic deaths involving children 15 years and younger were pedestrian accidents.
While these statistics are alarming, those in between are not exempt from injuries or death. For related emergency room treatments, those 15 to 29 years of age compose the largest group.
The faster you drive, the greater your chances of losing control and hitting another vehicle or damaging property. In pedestrian accidents, speed literally kills. According to a study by the London Department for Transportation, the difference from 30 to 40 mph increases accident-related fatalities. Supporting these findings, 60 percent of fatal pedestrian accidents involved a driver going 40 mph or faster.
By using the crosswalk, many pedestrians assume that drivers will automatically stop. However, figures from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration indicate that pedestrian-related conditions remain the same, regardless of whether a crosswalk is used. On roads with two lanes and a crosswalk, motorists appear more likely to hit a pedestrian than if the individual crossed a road without one.
Plenty of campaigns illustrate the dangers and damage related to drinking and driving. But, almost none touch on the risks of drunk pedestrians walking around and attempting to cross a road at night.
How serious is it? Figures from NHTSA show that 34 percent of fatal crashes involved a pedestrian with a BAC of at least 0.08 grams per deciliter (g/dL). About 15 percent involved a driver in a similarly drunk state.
Distracted behavior behind the wheel and on the pavement may produce disastrous, if not fatal, results. Although no definite figures are known, inattentiveness related to texting, talking on the phone or changing the music decreases driver and pedestrian focus. As such, the chances of going through a stop sign, hitting someone at a crosswalk or walking into a moving car increase.
Along with the use of electronics, simply not paying attention to pedestrians or cars on the roads can inevitably lead to accidents:
- Left-hand turns: In this case, accidents happen when the driver and pedestrian are looking in different directions. Statistics further show that, compared to accidents related to right turns, those involving a left-hand turn are three times higher.
- Quiet cars: Pedestrians may simply listen for the sound of oncoming cars, not look both ways and get hit by a hybrid or battery-powered vehicle. Especially when these types of vehicles move at slower speeds, there is a greater likelihood of pedestrian accidents.
- Not obeying traffic signals: Stop and yield signs are there for a reason and at these intersections, a pedestrian may also have the right of way. As such, someone expecting for a car to stop may step off the curb and get hit by an inattentive driver.
- Backing up: Although back-up cameras are said to address this issue, many accidents involving children occur when someone backs out of a driveway and doesn’t see a child playing. These accidents can happen at home or in a public parking lot.
Not being able to see someone walking alongside or crossing a road increases the chances of an accident. Weather is a primary culprit, from fog and rain obscuring the road ahead to slippery conditions created by ice and snow. Particularly during wintertime, a driver may not be able to slow down by the time he or she notices a pedestrian.
Regardless of season, poor visibility remains a possibility. You could be driving on roads with poor lighting and miss a pedestrian wearing dark-colored clothing.
If you’ve been hit by a driver and sustained life-threatening injuries, you may have a personal injury case. To discuss your claim with a lawyer, give us a call today.