Both drivers and pedestrians have a shared responsibility to use our roads safely and look out for each other. Unfortunately, pedestrian accidents are not uncommon and can have devastating consequences. Recent data shows pedestrian traffic deaths have hit the highest level in the US in more than 35 years.
From 2009 to 2018, the number of pedestrian fatalities increased by 53% (from 4,109 deaths in 2009 to 6,283 deaths in 2018), according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. The spike is more notable when compared to the combined number of all other traffic deaths, a figure that increased by just 2%.
Along with the increase in the number of pedestrian fatalities, pedestrian deaths as a percentage of total motor vehicle crash deaths increased from 12% in 2009 to 17% in 2018. The last time that pedestrians accounted for 17% of total U.S. traffic deaths was in 1982.
Why the Rise in Pedestrian Deaths?
Many factors may contribute to an accident involving a pedestrian. Currently, larger vehicles on the road and distracted driving are the leading culprits of the rising rate of pedestrian accidents.
Although passenger cars are the largest category of vehicles involved in fatal pedestrian crashes, the number of pedestrian fatalities involving SUVs increased by 81% from 2009 to 2018, compared to a 53% increase involving passenger cars.
The availability of smartphones over the past decade has also increased significantly, becoming a notable distraction. Putting our phones away inside the car can be difficult, but our phones can also divert our attention when we are simply walking down the street or through parking lots.
Avoid Pedestrian Accidents with These Safety Tips
It is more important than ever to take pedestrian safety seriously. Our children are spending more time at home remote learning and when it is time to take a break, they are often jumping on bikes and lacing up sneakers to go outside. Ensure they know how to stay as safe as possible while walking around the neighborhood.
Below are the top tips for staying safe as a pedestrian, according to Safe Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit organization working to help families and communities keep kids safe from injuries.
- Eliminate distractions. “Phones down, heads up,” is a simple piece of advice to stick to. When you are looking at your phone, you are not looking out for danger.
- Use crosswalks. Crosswalks are the safest place to cross the street. It is where people are watching for pedestrians.
- Keep looking while crossing. Look left, right, left, then keep looking in all directions while you’re crossing the street. Pause at each lane of traffic and make eye contact with the drivers.
- Wear reflective clothing. Be especially alert when it is dark out. About 75% of pedestrian fatalities occur after dark, and recent increases in the number of pedestrian fatalities are occurring largely at night.
- Stay off the road. Use sidewalks and paths instead of walking on the road. When you must walk on the road, walk facing traffic and stay as far away from vehicles as possible.
- Watch out for cars backing up. Accidents also happen in driveways and parking lots. Always be aware.
Steps to Take After An Accident
Pedestrians are responsible for walking in a careful and safe manner and should watch out for vehicles while on or near roads. Accidents happen and can be stressful, so it is important to stay as calm as possible and follow proper procedures.
If you or a loved one are involved in an accident as a pedestrian here are a few steps to follow:
- Get to safety and call for help.
- Seek medical treatment for any injuries.
- Ask for a police report and submit the claim for the incident with your insurance company.
- Consult with an attorney to be sure the proper paperwork is filed and that the proper parties are notified.
Consulting with a lawyer is especially important when a victim is considering compensation for their injuries. A personal injury attorney can explain all of the required steps necessary to start the process. Earlier this year, our team secured a $255,000 settlement for a woman who suffered injuries after being struck by an SUV while she was crossing at a crosswalk in Downtown Miami.
At Panter, Panter, & Sampedro, we are prepared to handle cases involving accidents between automobiles and pedestrians. If you or someone you know has been the victim of an accident where a driver acted negligently, contact us at (305) 662-6178.
Safe Kids Worldwide. How Not to Get Hit by a Car. Retrieved from: https://www.safekids.org/howtowalk
Governors Highway Safety Association (February 2020). Spotlight on Highway Safety. Retrieved from: https://www.ghsa.org/sites/default/files/2020-02/GHSA-Pedestrian-Spotlight-FINAL-rev2.pdf