In 2014, there were nearly 5,000 pedestrians killed and an estimated 65,000 injured in traffic crashes in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA). On average, a pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every eight minutes in traffic.
Although many pedestrian accidents occur due to driver negligence, such as disregarding traffic signals and walkways, cell phone use and other distractions, and impairment from alcohol and drugs, others are the result of pedestrian negligence.
- A pedestrian was killed around 9:30 p.m. after he ran across the road and collided with the side of a PT Cruiser, reported Delaware State Police. The Collision Reconstruction Unit is investigating the incident. Officials said they believe the pedestrian, who was wearing dark clothing and may have been under the influence of alcohol.
- A 76-year-old New Jersey man was fatally injured after he was hit by a car while crossing the road. According to reports, there is no crosswalk and little lighting at the intersection and the pedestrian was wearing dark clothing. Preliminary reports state that the pedestrian was at fault for failing to yield to traffic.
- A New York man was crossing the road when he was hit by a vehicle. The driver has been charged with vehicular manslaughter, driving while intoxicated and aggravated driving while intoxicated for having a blood alcohol content more than twice the state’s legal limit of 0.08 percent. The pedestrian was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
- Four children were hospitalized after they were struck by a driver who lost control and started to spin. Orlando police believe slick roads due to heavy rain were probably a factor in the crash. The children, ranging in ages from 5 – 11, were siblings walking and/or standing on the sidewalk with their mother. Three of the four children were treated at a local hospital and released. A 6-year-old girl is expected to have surgery for multiple fractures to her leg, but is in stable condition. The crash is under investigation. The driver of the vehicle is cooperating with authorities.
Pedestrian accidents may be the most devastating of all automobile related accidents, because they involve at least one person on foot, unprotected by a vehicle, seat belts, and airbags. When a car collides with a pedestrian, there is an extremely high potential for serious injury, even death. It is imperative for drivers and pedestrians alike to follow simple rules to reduce this alarming problem for those on foot.
Pedestrian Safety Tips
- Cross the street only at intersections or marked crosswalks; do not cross when the sign reads “Do Not Walk” even if there is not oncoming traffic.
- Do not cross in the middle of a street or between cars.
- Continuously watch for traffic as you cross the street.
- Always make sure a motorist is not turning even if there is a “No turn on red” sign.
- Avoid walking on roads without sidewalks and crosswalks, but if you must, walk facing traffic.
- Look left-right-left before crossing a street – even if it is not a busy intersection.
- Do not assume that cars are driving slowly enough for you to cross or for them to stop.
- Wear high-visibility clothing or reflectors, especially when visibility is limited such as early morning and evening hours and overcast days.
- Avoid distractions like texting or talking on a cellphone when crossing the street or walking in the roadway.
- Remove one ear bud, if using earphones, in order to hear oncoming traffic.
Drivers should remember that they can encounter pedestrians anywhere, at anytime.
- Pay attention to crosswalks; make sure pedestrians are not crossing the road before traveling through the intersection. Pedestrians at a crosswalk or intersection, marked or unmarked, have the right of way. Slow down and be prepared to stop.
- Pay attention to traffic controls and speed limits, especially in school zones and neighborhoods.
- Yield to pedestrians already crossing the road even if not at the crosswalk.
- Be attentive especially around schools and neighborhoods where children present.
- Do not assume the pedestrian sees (or hears) you.
- Look out for pedestrians, especially in hard-to-see conditions such as at night or in bad weather.
- Be cautious when backing up – pedestrians, especially young children, can move across your path.
- Using extra caution during early morning or evening hours, and any time when sun glare impedes vision.
- Avoiding all distractions including texting or talking on cellphones and/or eating or drinking, when behind the wheel.
- Never drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Pedestrian safety is everyone’s concern, whether you are a driver, cyclist or pedestrian. Following these tips will help keep pedestrians – young and old – safe. Most importantly to pedestrians and drivers – use common sense.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.