Traveling by foot is not terribly common in the United States. In fact, only 11% of transport happens on foot, yet pedestrians are involved in 13% of vehicle-related fatalities. Each year, more than 4,000 pedestrians are killed in collisions with automobiles, while another 70,000 are injured. These are shocking statistics , but what is even more shocking is that the majority of pedestrian accidents are not caused by the behavior of drivers, but by the pedestrians themselves.
Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration , 73% of pedestrian fatalities occur in urban areas, which is to be expected, since foot travel is more common in more densely populated areas. Thus, being a pedestrian in an urban environment alone increases your risk of being involved in an accident, but there are a few more specific causes of pedestrian accidents. Some of these situations are the fault of the pedestrian, while others are the fault of the urban environment.
- Distraction: Distracted driving is a well-known problem, but distracted pedestrians can also cause accidents. Most of the distraction among pedestrian is a result of staring into mobile devices—which takes their eyes off the street long enough to not notice that they are stepping out into moving traffic.
- Jaywalking: This includes walking against a pedestrian walk signal, crossing a street mid-block, ignoring the use of designated pedestrian paths, crossing a street outside a marked crosswalk when one is present, or walking in the wrong direction.
- Alcohol consumption: Again, drunk driving is a well-documented problem, but drunk walking can be dangerous for the same reasons, especially at night and in busy entertainment districts.
- Poor timing of crossing signals: Crosswalk times are set for the average pedestrian, meaning that slower walkers—like the elderly or large groups of pedestrians—are at greater risk of being caught in the right-of-way when the light changes.
- Street repair and construction: Construction of sidewalks, streets, and buildings can create a temporarily unsafe environment for pedestrians, who often will choose to take the shorter, more dangerous route rather the longer, more crowded detour route.
- Absence of sidewalks: If there is no sidewalk, pedestrians are forced to walk in the vehicle right-of-way, which greatly increases their risk of being hit. This is more of a problem in rural areas than urban areas.
How to Avoid Pedestrian Accidents
You wouldn’t run a red light in your car just because no one was coming, right? Well, why would you do the same thing when you are walking?
Studies have shown that pedestrians often break traffic laws because they feel that enforcement of pedestrian laws is lax—if police officers are even aware of them at all. However, there are several things you can do to reduce your risk of being involved in a pedestrian, such as:
- Always cross in a crosswalk
- Increase your visibility at night by carrying a flashlight and wearing reflective clothing
- Walk on the sidewalk if possible. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the shoulder of the road facing into traffic.
- Avoid using electronic devices that take your attention off the road
Contact an Atlanta Pedestrian Accident Attorney
If you have been hit by a driver while you were a pedestrian, you may have a claim against the driver, depending on the circumstances. Contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling 404.255.6677. We serve the entire state of Georgia, including the following locations: Richmond County, Troup County, and Whitfield County.