There were 4,735 pedestrian deaths from traffic crashes in the United States in 2013. On average, this comes to one crash-related pedestrian fatality every 2 hours. Excluding fatalities, there were 150,000 pedestrians who required medical attention after being injured in traffic crashes in 2013. There are certain risk factors that contribute to these numerous pedestrian deaths resulting from traffic accidents. Being a child or an older adult puts you at a greater risk of being a pedestrian injured in a car accident. Older adults, ages 65 and older, make up 19 percent of all pedestrian deaths and about 10 percent of pedestrians injured in 2013. Also looking at data from 2013, 20 percent of children under the age of 14 who were killed in traffic accidents were pedestrians. Another risk factor, which is not surprising, is alcohol. Alcohol was involved in almost half of traffic crashes in which there was a pedestrian death, including alcohol consumption by drivers and by pedestrians. In the cases where alcohol was consumed, 34 percent of fatal crashes involved a pedestrian who had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above or at the legal limit and 15 percent involved motorists with a BAC above or at the legal limit. Speed is also a risk factor. As vehicle speed increases, the probability of a pedestrian being hit also increases, and the severity of the injury worsens. It has been found that most pedestrian deaths transpire in urban, non-intersection areas when it is dark out.
It is essential that both motorists and pedestrians exercise reasonable care while traveling on or near the roads. Although in many situations, the negligent party may seem obvious, courts assess several factors when determining negligence. Motorists are required by law to exercise reasonable care while driving. Operating without reasonable care is considered negligence. Motorists who are found negligent may owe damages for personal and property damages that resulted from their negligence. Several common factors that have been deemed negligent are distracted driving, speeding, not yielding for pedestrians who have the right of way, violating traffic signs or signals, failing to signal when completing a turn, ignoring weather or traffic conditions, and operating while using drugs or alcohol. Drivers also have a special duty of care in regards to children. In areas such as school zones, parks, and thickly settled residential areas where children are likely to be found, drivers need to exercise even greater caution than they usually would.
However, it is not only the responsibility of the motorist to act carefully while driving. Pedestrians must also act with reasonable care to protect their own safety. Pedestrians can be found to have acted in contributory negligence if they did not exercise reasonable care, which may have contributed to their sustaining of their injuries. Some common actions by pedestrians that are negligent include not waiting for the signal to walk at intersections, entering traffic and unnecessarily disrupting it, jaywalking instead of utilizing crosswalks, and darting in front of vehicles.
The negligent actions of motorists and pedestrians collectively contribute to the thousands of fatal traffic-related accidents every year. In addition to exercising reasonable care, there are several steps pedestrians can take in order to protect themselves from hazardous situations on the road. Pedestrians should: cross the street at designated crosswalks or intersections; wear bright or reflective clothing at night to increase visibility for drivers; try and walk on sidewalks but face oncoming traffic on the shoulder of the road if there is no sidewalk; and refrain from distractions, such as using your cell phone while walking. Pedestrians cannot expect that drivers will always follow the rules of the road. The best method by which pedestrians can protect themselves is to always be defensive on the roads.
If you have been involved in a crosswalk accident and would like to know your rights and benefits you may be entitled to, give us a call to talk to an experience Massachusetts personal injury lawyer. 617-492-3000.
“Pedestrian Accidents Overview – FindLaw.” Findlaw. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 July 2016.
“Pedestrian Safety.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 Feb. 2016. Web. 26 July 2016.
“Walk This Way! Taking Steps for Pedestrian Safety.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 Mar. 2016. Web. 26 July 2016.