Despite the incredible advancements in technology, transportation, and medicine that have been made in our lifetimes, automobiles remain a deadly machine. Even more worrisome than the high rate of auto accidents is the threat cars and other motor vehicles pose to pedestrians.
One saying that unfortunately continues to hold true is that you’re more likely to get hit by a car while crossing the street than, well, just about anything. Pedestrian accidents remain a major source of injury that can cause serious long term health problems, disabilities, and deaths, including nearly 6,000 deaths each year in the United States.
These types of accidents, which most often involve some sort of negligence on the part of the vehicle operator, also remain a major category of personal injury that we see play out in civil courtrooms across the United States.
The Primary Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Most injuries in pedestrian accidents were completely preventable. Understanding what causes these accidents can help you avoid them.
The National Highway Safety Administration estimated that over 400 pedestrians were killed in 2018 due to distracted driving. This can involve anything from looking at the phone to reaching into the back seat or under the seat for items.
Accidents can also be caused by being distracted by passengers. Regardless of the circumstances that created the distraction, the driver is still responsible for doing their utmost to avoid an accident.
Executing a Left-Hand Turn
According to the New York City Transportation Department, pedestrians are three times more likely to be hit and killed by left-turning drivers than those who are turning right or driving straight ahead. This realization has translated into a number of significant behavioral-related steps, including UPS setting up a navigation system that focuses on right turns.
If all delivery drivers rethink left turns, many pedestrian accidents could be prevented. Only making right turns can avoid accidents and save time.
DUIs or DWIs (driver under the influence and driving while intoxicated) are responsible for over ten thousand deaths in the United States alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control, half of all pedestrian deaths by car involve driver intoxication.
Reduced Visibility at Night
The majority of incidents involving a pedestrian being struck by a motor vehicle occur at nighttime, particularly while the pedestrian is crossing the street on an unmarked crosswalk. This statistic is a sobering reminder to drivers to remain additionally cautious while traveling at night, and for pedestrians to take safety precautions when walking after sundown.
There is no shortage of areas from urban to rural America that lack the necessary road markings to make drivers aware that they should slow for pedestrians. Nevertheless, it is the driver’s responsibility to avoid accidents and stop for pedestrians no matter where they are crossing the street.
For pedestrians, seeking out marked crossings where available is important to ensure your personal safety. You should also make sure to make eye contact with drivers before you cross to make sure they have seen you.
How to Protect Yourself
There are a number of rules you as a pedestrian can follow to lower your risk of being struck by a car while crossing the street, such as:
- Don’t wear headphones if crossing the street
- Wear reflective material on your outer clothing or carry a flashlight when walking at night
- Always cross at marked crosswalks when it’s an option
- Avoid walking in the road and always walk on the sidewalk where available
The Scope of the Risk and Damage is Larger Than We Know
All of these circumstances can take place in the blink of an eye, and many of these accidents are never reported to the authorities. Some accidents may involve a hit-and-run. For others, the victim may not realize the extent of the damage to their body until they’ve waved the driver off.
This is why it is critical that you always collect a driver’s information, including their insurance information. Don’t hesitate to call 911 if you believe you may require medical attention.
What to Do if You’ve Been in an Accident as a Pedestrian
If you have been in an accident where you are hit by a driver, you may want to contact an attorney if you believe you may be owed any damages. The chances are high that you and your attorney will be able to ensure your medical bills are covered and that you will be justly compensated for any additional pain and suffering that was caused by the accident.