Pedestrian vs. automobile accidents can be serious or fatal because unlike drivers, people who are outside running or walking have no form of protection. It happens more often than you might think, too – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates than more than 70,000 pedestrians become injured and more than 4,000 lose their lives every year in these kinds of accidents. These unfortunate events are preventable in most cases and can be due to driver or pedestrian negligence or error.
What Are the Main Reasons for Pedestrian Accidents?
Distracted drivers cause a large percentage of pedestrian accidents. Many are due to texting, emailing, and talking on cellphones when behind the wheel. Other forms of distraction include adjusting the radio, using a GPS, looking at a phone, eating or drinking, personal grooming, or interacting with other passengers or pets while driving. Distracted pedestrians also cause these crashes – think about how often you see people walking and talking or texting.
Intersections are often the site of pedestrian accidents, with left-hand turns being three times as likely to cause pedestrians to get hit by cars. Even when there are crosswalks and signals, drivers who turn left focus more attention on approaching cars than walkers. They are more likely to be on the lookout for vehicles and fail to check for pedestrians who might be crossing.
The NHTSA also reports that alcohol is a contributing factor for approximately 12 percent of pedestrian accidents, whether it be the driver or person out on the street who is under the influence. Sadly, most of these lead to fatal outcomes for either or both. Alcohol is also linked to about 60 percent of all fatal auto crashes that involve young drivers and naturally, drugs also contribute to these accidents.
Other Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Right-of-way situations when drivers fail to yield for pedestrians can also cause serious injuries and fatalities. Even if a pedestrian ignores a sign or traffic signal, they are still vulnerable to getting hurt, therefore, drivers should allow them to cross when they have started moving. If the person realizes their mistake and starts moving back, wait until they are back on the sidewalk before proceeding to drive forward. Jaywalking can be very dangerous in this respect, and people frequently attempt to cross right at the last minute before a light change. It is best to keep a vigilant eye out for pedestrians on streets with sidewalks, as they have no defense, even if they don’t have the right of way by crossing away from the designated crosswalk.
It can also be hard for motorists to avoid crashes when pedestrians are standing or idling in roadways. It could be a few people talking in the street, kids playing, a whole team of construction workers on the job, or any other kind of hazardous situations.
It is important for drivers to adhere to lower posted speed limits in neighborhood and school zones, and to slow down accordingly in construction zones. Still, a pedestrian who was standing, playing, or lying down in a road could be held liable for an accident if they are not using the designated crosswalks. Pedestrians can also stay safer on shoulders and sidewalks by moving in the same direction as traffic, rather than going toward it.
Low visibility also causes pedestrian accidents, so it is important for pedestrians to wear light-colored clothing when they are out at dusk or night. Most crosswalks and intersections have streetlamps or flashing lights, but it can still be hard for drivers to see those who are walking or running outside in the dark. Reflective clothing and accessories can help with this, and many people rely on them for visibility.
Other Dangerous Situations to Be Aware Of
Poor weather conditions are another contributing factor for these accidents, making it harder for pedestrians and drivers to see at times. Rain, snow, and ice make the ground treacherous, and can cause vehicles to skid and people to fall.
Driving classes teach students to give pedestrians the right of way, but real-life scenarios are different than learning the basics. While there may be some actual encounters during on-the-road lessons, knowing what to do when a pedestrian jumps out in front of you at an intersection can be difficult the first time it happens.
Reckless Drivers and Pedestrian Accidents
It can be hard for drivers to remain patient around pedestrians, but in most states walkers and runners have the right of way even when they do not follow the rules. Drivers who neglect to give pedestrians the right of way, make illegal turns, speed, do not come to complete stops at intersections and fail to slow down are breaking laws and could injure or kill others.
Defective traffic lights and unmarked crosswalks can also create dangerous situations for pedestrians and motorists, and when drivers are speeding or otherwise behaving irresponsibly, the risk of an accident skyrockets. Not using turn signals is another problem, because people out on the street (and other motorists) will have no indication as to a vehicle’s next move and will not realize that they should move out of the way. As the person on the road with the least protection, pedestrians must always keep safety in mind. If a driver’s or pedestrian’s temper flares at a perceived offense, the best thing to do is to ignore it and move on, as no one wants to get involved with a road rage situation.
Driver and Pedestrians Have Responsibilities
Drivers have a duty to exercise care when they are behind the wheel, and this depends on considering variables like traffic, lighting conditions, weather, and the pedestrians on the road. Failing to maintain that duty of care could lead to a charge of negligence when a pedestrian is hurt. When that happens, the driver might be held legally responsible, and be ordered to pay out financial compensation for the pedestrian’s injuries and associated losses.
Pedestrians should be aware that distracted walking, jaywalking and not following traffic signs and signals puts them at risk of getting into accidents. Staying alert is always important, but even more so when there is traffic and approaching intersections. Remember, even if the driver is negligent and held liable for the damages, serious injuries could result that put people out of commission for long periods of time. In the worst-case scenario, a fatality could occur.
These guidelines also apply to others who share the roads, including cyclists. They can be even more vulnerable than pedestrians; even though they can wear helmets, they can be traveling at faster speeds. Drivers need to give them the right of way as well and always maintain the proper distances. Cyclists can also be negligent, but it is important to allow them the right of way and not drive recklessly around them even when they are being aggressive.
Contact a Springfield Car Accident Lawyer from Kicklighter Law if You Were Involved in a Pedestrian vs. Automobile Accident
Even the most safety-conscious motorist and pedestrians end up in serious automobile crashes, and both parties can experience life-threatening injuries, property damages or worse. Reach out to a skilled Springfield car accident lawyer at Kicklighter Law if you or someone you care about was impacted in a crash like this. For a free initial consultation, call us at 912-754-6003 or complete our online form. From our offices in Springfield, Georgia we serve clients throughout Springfield, Effingham County, Savannah, and the surrounding areas.