Serious injuries to pedestrians often occur where both vehicle speeds and pedestrian awareness are low. Human behavior, confined areas, or even time of day increase risk of injury or fatality.
Americans are obsessed with cars. We have some 253 million vehicles on the road today, roughly 3.7 million more than a year before. In our car culture, we often forget that drivers become pedestrians once the cars are parked. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 4,735 pedestrians died in traffic accidents in 2013, the latest year for available data. An additional 66,000 suffered serious injuries from vehicles-pedestrian accidents. Knowing the most dangerous locations, times and behaviors can reduce your risk of suffering—or causing—serious injuries.
When Risk is Greatest
Most serious injuries for pedestrians occur Fridays and Saturdays during daylight, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Most fatalities happen at night (5:30 p.m. to midnight), possibly because of factors such as intoxicated drivers, intoxicated pedestrians, and poor visibility.
Bad weather and low lighting conditions also contribute to pedestrian-vehicle accidents. Pedestrians rush through rain, not giving themselves enough time to see oncoming traffic. Dawn, dusk and night offer less light for drivers to see pedestrians, and wintertime finds more pedestrians in dark clothes.
Who is Most At Risk
Serious injuries from vehicle-pedestrian crashes fall across age and gender groups, but we can use NHTSA data to develop a composite picture of the most vulnerable:
- Males 20 to 24 showed the highest injury rate of all groups
- Females 25 to 29 had the highest risk of suffering moderate to serious injuries for their gender
- Children under 14 accounted for six percent of all serious injuries among pedestrians
Where Caution Helps
Most (74 percent) crashes between pedestrians and vehicles happened where no traffic control was in place, so both walkers and drivers should exercise caution in the absence of road signs and signals. Most vehicle-pedestrian accidents did not happen at intersections:
- Urban areas: 60 percent not at street crossings
- Rural areas: 67 percent at road shoulders and other areas between intersections
Locations, where drivers stop driving to become pedestrians, are trouble spots. Parking lots, downtown streets, and areas where pedestrians are encumbered (carrying packages or small children, navigating carts or strollers) are all sites of serious injuries for pedestrian-vehicle crashes. Additional danger spots include mall parking garages, stadium parking lots, playgrounds and shopping centers.
Jaywalking—cutting across busy roads in the middle of the block—is a pedestrian behavior that often ends in tragedy, and is entirely preventable. Other problems unthinking pedestrians present:
- Walking or jogging with traffic instead of against it
- Standing between parked cars
- Rushing to cross intersections as lights change
- Working on or pushing a disabled car
What to Do If You Are Involved in a Pedestrian-Vehicle Accident
Whether you are the driver or the pedestrian, try to remain calm. Check yourself for injuries and then check on the other person or persons involved. Encourage bystanders to call for medical and police help. If you are the driver, offer aid to the pedestrian. As the pedestrian, you need to get out of harm’s way and remain as still as possible.
Encourage passengers and bystanders to take photographs of the scene and surroundings while awaiting police, then cooperate fully with medical personnel and law enforcement. One thing not to do: engage in any conversation or discussion of the accident with anyone.
For serious injuries, protect your rights—whether as the driver or the pedestrian—by seeking help from an attorney specializing in cases related to car accidents. Contact Ginsburg & Associates. Ginsburg & Associates is a Philadelphia-based law firm that specializes in personal injury.