When we think of a car accident, we usually picture a crash between two cars. It’s easy to forget about pedestrians, and the risks we face when walking close to traffic. With the sun going down before five o’clock thanks to daylight savings time, it’s important to stay extra vigilant this winter.
As pedestrians, we want to rely on the drivers around us to operate their vehicles safely. We expect cars to stop at red lights, drive the speed limit, and let us cross when we have the right of way. Unfortunately, many circumstances can cause drivers to end up in an accident, and those accidents can involve pedestrians.
According to the NHTSA, California is the most deadly state for pedestrian accidents. For a comprehensive guide to pedestrian accidents, check out this one from an injury law firm in Florida – the second most dangerous state.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
In 2017, a pedestrian died from a vehicle accident every 88 seconds, on average. Some of the top causes of pedestrian accidents are:
- Texting while driving
- Driving under the influence
- Disobeying traffic laws and signs
- Weather conditions
Additionally, there are increased risk factors at this time of year. From drunk drivers after holiday parties to snow and black ice, car accidents increase during the winter months. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 1,300 people are killed every year from car accidents due to snow, slush, or ice on the road.
Tips to Stay Safe as a Pedestrian
Next time you are walking somewhere, especially at night, keep the following advice in mind.
1. Be Visible
Obviously you can’t always wear bright colors. Instead, consider keeping something bright or reflective on hand. This could be a reflective vest, an LED wristband, a flashlight, or headlamp. Most pedestrian accidents happen at night, which starts early in the winter.
2. Always use the sidewalk
If you don’t have access to a sidewalk, the next best thing is to walk on the shoulder of the highway, facing traffic. This will allow cars to see you and you to see cars.
3. Only cross at crosswalks, when possible
It can be tempting to run across the street quickly after looking both ways. Maybe the crosswalk is too far away, or you decide to risk it since you see no cars coming. However, cars are much more likely to stop when they see an upcoming crosswalk, and may not be prepared to stop for an unexpected pedestrian. Using designated crosswalks will greatly increase your safety. Most pedestrian accidents happen at a non-crosswalk area.
4. Avoid headphones
Not being able to hear cars and other things in your environment can increase your danger. You won’t be able to hear if something is approaching, such as a car that went off the road. If you are intoxicated, this is even more important, since the combination of headphones and intoxication can throw you off balance and disturb your coordination.
5. Never assume cars will follow traffic laws
It may be natural to assume that cars will follow traffic and safety laws, but that’s not the case. There are plenty of scenarios where a car will run a stop sign or turn right while pedestrians are crossing the street. The best thing for pedestrians to do is to keep an eye on surrounding cars and watch what they’re doing. If you haven’t followed tip number one about being visible, it’s even more likely that a car may not see you. It’s your duty as a pedestrian to stay vigilant and protect yourself.
Even if you follow every pedestrian safety tip, unfortunately accidents can still happen. If you do find yourself injured after being struck by a car, don’t hesitate to contact a pedestrian accident attorney. They will help you navigate the complex litigation process and ensure that you get compensation for your injury.