Steps to Take to Avoid Pedestrian Accidents
Car accidents occur on a daily basis in the United States. While many of these accidents only cause minor injuries at a low speed, some of them can be fatal. Many of these accidents can be prevented through safe, smart decisions made by both walkers and drivers. Personal injury attorneys also have a role to play when the inevitable accident does occur.
Car accident statistics have grown particularly grim in recent years. More than 6,500 people were killed in pedestrian accidents in 2020. That number was undoubtedly lower than the 2021 and 2022 numbers will be given the reduced amount of traveling by car in 2020. The number of accidents is lower than it was in the 1970s but higher than the lowest total in 2009. New Mexico is the state with the highest death rate with Florida in second place.
There are several different reasons for these horrific statistics. One is the design of cars in recent years. Car designs have resulted in SUVs and trucks that are much higher off of the ground than they used to be. These higher vehicles make it more difficult for drivers to see walkers and for walkers to know if they have been spotted by a driver.
In addition, they raise the center of gravity for the vehicle and cause more damage when they do hit people. Another reason is the proliferation of opportunities for distracted driving. An alarming percentage of all drivers engage in some form of distracted driving on a regular basis. The most common practice is texting while driving. These distractions make drivers more susceptible to all forms of accidents.
Laws Regarding Pedestrians
It is often assumed that individuals always have the right of way. There are a wide variety of instances where drivers must stop for people. Intersections where traffic is stopped is one of those situations. There are bright signs that tell when a person can walk across a road and when they cannot. Signs are sometimes placed in dangerous intersections to remind drivers that yielding to people at marked crosswalks in the law.
Flashing yellow lights and stop signs can also help with the indication. When the sign indicates, drivers must stop and give right of way to a walker. The same is true when a walker is standing at a marked crosswalk and is looking to cross. In these instances, the driver must take the extra step of allowing the person to walk across.
In other situations, walkers do not have the right of way. One of these is when crossing a highway. Walkers must let cars go when they are trying to cross a highway and must stop when cars are wanting to go. Any allowance of walkers in this circumstance is voluntary and made solely on the discretion of the vehicle driver. Another instance is when a walker wants to cross outside of the confines of a crosswalk.
In many instances, drivers will allow people to jaywalk and cross at these areas. They may want to help someone who is clearly taking time to cross a busy intersection. They may also want to ensure that the person does not inadvertently walk in front of their car and cause an accident. No matter the scenario, the driver is simply acting in an altruistic manner. The law is certainly on their side.
Finally, a walker must yield to a driver when they are actually walking in the roadway. It is legal for people to walk on the left side of the road against traffic if there is no sidewalk. Drivers should always be careful and make sure that they leave a considerable amount of space for people to walk. However, the person does not have the right of way in these situations.
What To Do
Both pedestrians and drivers have a role to play in ensuring that there are as few accidents as possible. Drivers have to remain vigilant and avoid all temptations for distracted driving. They should put their phones down and use software which keeps them from being distracted by text messages and phone apps. Drivers should even refrain from hands-free devices as these devices can still distract them from seeing people.
When it comes to individual interactions, drivers must follow all of the related yield and right-of-way laws associated with walkers. These laws are taught in driver education courses and they need to be reviewed periodically. Some states have different laws regarding when drivers should stop and when they only need to yield to people. These laws should certainly be reviewed whenever a driver is moving from one state to another.
Drivers must follow all signs and announced changes to traffic patterns. They need to pay particularly close attention at intersections and other areas where visibility is limited and there is a greater chance of a pedestrian accident. Finally, drivers need to be aware every time they see a walker. They need to be prepared for the person to walk when they are not supposed to or expected to. When in doubt, a driver needs to steer clear of walkers and let them go. A mistaken analysis of yields and the law could result in a person’s untimely death.
Pedestrians have a role to play as well in reducing accidents. A person who is crossing the street should never look at their phones while doing so. While drivers can easily be distracted by cell phones, it is up to individuals to avoid the temptation of these distractions when they walk across the street as well. They need to follow all related right-of-way and crossing laws. Jaywalking is an offense that nearly every person has committed in their lives. It is an act which walkers must avoid in order to prioritize their own safety when crossing busy streets.
People should always wait to cross at crosswalks when traffic and warning laws deem it safe for them to do so. They can also wait for cars to notice and stop before entering a crosswalk. Many people assume that all surrounding cars will stop if they enter into a legally protected crosswalk. However, drivers occasionally do not see individuals and will not stop when they are supposed to. In order to avoid this, people can wait to cross until both cars have come to a complete stop and are waiting for them to walk across the street. This confirmation is occasionally done with making eye contact with the drivers of the cars involved. Either way, this simple step can help a person avoid a severe accident where they are not even at fault.
The Role of the Legal System
In the unfortunate event that someone is the victim of an accident, they should first seek medical help. The most important factor is their health and they should take immediate steps to ensure that they recover from the accident. Once these medical steps are taken, the victim should consult a personal injury attorney. The attorney will gather all information associated with the accident. They will compile documents, talk to the men and women involved, and seek out statements from potential witnesses to determine who is at fault.
The attorney will be particularly interested in figuring out what kind of crosswalk the accident happened at. Then, they will offer their opinion on whether or not a case is possible and damages should be sought. These damages would reflect the physical and mental anguish that the victim of the accident may have received. The potential threat of a lawsuit is one of the less-discussed factors that helps to dissuade some accidents.
Accidents are an unfortunate fact of modern life for pedestrians. With changes to cityscapes and car designs, urban planners could potentially reduce the number of accidents that harm people every year. But for the people who are still affected, a personal injury attorney may be the best option to make sure they receive the care and support they deserve.