We’ve all heard these encouraging statistics from multiple sources: Overall, the number of motor vehicle accidents is going down. Yet, figures only show one side of the story. Pedestrian accidents – involving anyone walking, running, riding a bike or using a wheelchair – are on the rise. Data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) indicates that pedestrian-related deaths increased 46 percent nationally from 2009 through 2016.
Motor vehicle involvement paints an even grimmer picture. According to NHTSA, cars and trucks were responsible for 5,000 pedestrian fatalities in 2012 and 76,000 additional injuries – that’s one pedestrian death every 1.6 hours. If you compare fatalities between those on the street versus those in a vehicle, pedestrians are 1.5 times as likely to be killed during a car crash.
Although these figures reflect national trends, Connecticut roads are not always the safest. From a lack of sidewalks and bike paths to poor maintenance, the state came in 27th in 2014 for pedestrian safety, with the greatest number of fatalities in New Haven, Hartford and Fairfield counties.
Who’s More Vulnerable?
When you break down who’s getting hit, statistics skew to both ends of the spectrum. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Adults ages 65 and older made up nearly 20 percent of all pedestrian fatalities and 13 percent of injuries in 2015.
- Of all children killed in traffic crashes that year, one out of every five were pedestrians under the age of 15.
- Children ages 5 to 9 have the greatest risk of being hit, as they’re smaller and less predictable than older kids.
- For children, injuries can be particularly severe and long lasting, including chest and upper body injuries, cervical spine dislocation and traumatic brain injuries.
Regardless of age, injuries can still happen when a driver is traveling at slower speeds. In fact, driving at just 10 miles per hour can cause significantly disabling conditions. Once the speed exceeds 30 MPH, the severity and number of fatalities increase. After surviving an accident, you could experience:
- Broken bones
- Head injuries, including traumatic brain injury
- Road rash
- Spinal cord damage
Locations of Pedestrian Accidents
Where is a pedestrian accident more likely to occur?
- About 75 percent of the time, accidents happen in urban areas.
- Close to 70 percent happen away from intersections.
- Over half occur at night, with the largest percentage happening between 6 and 9 p.m.
When these crashes occur, NHTSA points out it’s nearly always a single vehicle hitting a pedestrian and less than 10 percent involve multiple vehicles. In these instances:
- Pedestrians frequently get hit by the vehicle’s front, rather than the rear or sides.
- Cars and light trucks are responsible for most front-impact accidents.
- For side and rear impacts, a large truck or bus is more likely to be involved.
However, understand that not all pedestrian accidents involve a vehicle. Rather, these incidents may be attributed to poorly maintained walkways, sidewalks and parking lots. Debris, cracks, potholes, defective design and construction are responsible for thousands of off-road pedestrian accidents each year.
Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Many pedestrian accidents can be traced back to duty of care – the degree of watchfulness and responsibility motorists and pedestrians have to each other, including following the rules of the road. Yet, several instances breach this duty:
- Alcohol Use: Alcohol is behind nearly half of all pedestrian-related deaths, whether consumed by the driver or the pedestrian. Contrary to popular belief, pedestrian alcohol consumption is responsible for close to 35 percent of all fatalities, versus 15 percent for drunk drivers.
- Higher Vehicle Speeds: The faster a driver goes, the greater the chances are of a pedestrian being struck.
- Distracted Driving: Including texting, talking on a phone, changing the radio or checking a GPS.
- Failing to Yield: Especially at crosswalks but also including traffic signs and signals. This includes failing to come to a full stop at a stop sign or running through a red light.
- Turn Signals: Failing to signal while driving.
- Road Conditions: Failing to drive appropriately for certain weather and traffic conditions.
If the pedestrian had been behaving recklessly, a court may determine he or she is partially at fault for:
- Ignoring the “stop” signal at the intersection or failing to follow other traffic rules.
- Walking through traffic, causing drivers to stop suddenly, or quickly darting in front of a vehicle, so that the driver doesn’t have time to stop.
- Not using crosswalks.
- Standing in the middle of a road or crosswalk.
- Opting to use the road, when a sidewalk is clearly nearby.
- Using an electronic device, such as a cellphone, GPS or MP3 player while walking.
In these instances, both parties may have acted negligently and may share some amount of fault. In a fairly common scenario, the pedestrian starts to cross the street illegally and the driver is going far above the speed limit, unable to stop in time.
What to Do When a Pedestrian Accident Occurs
What happens when you’re involved in a pedestrian accident? Be sure you:
- Call the police right away.
- Never leave the scene before help arrives.
- Get names and numbers of any witnesses.
- Take pictures of the scene.
- Consider getting legal representation.
Being hit by a car is a life-changing experience that could result in long-term disability, expensive medical treatments and time off from work, if not reduced future employment options. As you try to recover, the driver’s insurance company may push back, claiming the accident is fully your fault. That’s where Trantolo & Trantolo comes in.
If you haven’t made headway in your claim, it’s time to get our personal injury lawyers involved. For 80 years, we’ve protected the rights of Connecticut citizens and we’ll help you get through this stressful time. To speak with us at no cost, contact us today.