People on foot or in wheelchairs are some of the most vulnerable travelers on the road. As they make their way down the sidewalks, through parking lots, or across the street, pedestrians expose themselves to distracted, careless, and negligent drivers and risk serious injury or death when they are hit. Only by increasing awareness of the dangers faced by pedestrians and providing information on how to avoid an accident with a pedestrian can we hope to reduce the number of people injured and killed every year.
Pedestrian Accident Statistics
A pedestrian is injured in a traffic accident every eight minutes in the United States. According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a pedestrian was killed by a motor vehicle every two hours in 2014. This amounted to 4,884 pedestrian deaths and 32,675 injuries. Unfortunately, these numbers mean that every time you walk to the store or your child walks to school, there is a risk of being injured or killed by a careless driver.
When and Where Pedestrian Accidents Happen
Not surprisingly, 78 percent of pedestrian accidents occur in busy, urban areas. NHTSA’s findings about the times and locations of fatal pedestrian accidents also include the following:
- Most fatal accidents (71 percent) occur at non-intersections.
- Intersection accidents account for 19 percent of pedestrian accidents.
- Fatal accidents also occur in bicycle lanes, sidewalks, driveway access, walking paths, medians or crossing islands, and non-traffic way areas.
- Three-quarters of fatal pedestrian crashes occur after dark.
- Daytime accidents account for 24 percent of pedestrian fatalities.
- The average age of pedestrians killed by cars in 2014 was 47, but the age group with the most fatalities was the 60-64 age group.
- More than two-thirds of pedestrians killed were men.
These statistics tell us that pedestrians are most at risk when attempting to cross the street outside of an intersection in the dark, but caution is needed whenever you are on foot.
Wheelchair and Scooter Accidents
One particularly vulnerable section of the pedestrian demographic are disabled people who use wheelchairs or motorized scooters. While often not thought of as pedestrians because they are not technically on foot, these people are crossing the same streets and negotiating the same sidewalks as walkers, but may be even harder to see as they are lower to the ground. Disabled pedestrians must also be shown due respect. These travelers are entitled to the same rights as any pedestrian. Furthermore, Indiana code dictates that drivers yield the right of way to blind pedestrians, those carrying a white cane, or those accompanied by a guide dog.
Who Pays for Pedestrian Injuries?
If you are hit by a car in Indiana and the driver is found to be at fault, his automobile insurance policy will be a source of damages, although he may not have enough coverage to fully compensate you. Almost 20 percent of pedestrian accidents are hit-and-run crashes where the driver is not identified. In these cases, your own health insurance will have to cover your damages.
Tips From the NHTSA for Pedestrian Safety
The following tips are provided by NHTSA to help pedestrians protect themselves and advise drivers on how to prevent pedestrian accidents.
Safety Tips for Pedestrians:
- Walk on a sidewalk or path when one is available.
- If no sidewalk or path is available, walk on the shoulder, facing traffic
- Stay alert; don’t be distracted by electronic devices.
- Be cautious night and day when sharing the road with vehicles.
- Never assume a driver sees you (he or she could be distracted, under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, or just not see you). Make eye contact with drivers as they approach.
- Be predictable. Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections when possible. This is where drivers expect pedestrians.
- If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area, wait for a gap in traffic that allows you enough time to cross safely, and continue to watch for traffic as you cross.
- Be visible. Wear bright clothing during the day and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your judgment and coordination.
Safety Tips for Drivers:
- Refrain from using a cell phone while driving and avoid other driving distractions.
- Look for pedestrians everywhere. Pedestrians may not be walking where they should be or may be hard to see—especially in poorly lit conditions, including dusk, dawn, night, and poor weather.
- Always stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk or where pedestrian crosswalk signs are posted.
- Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. They may be stopped to allow pedestrians to cross the street.
- Slow down and look for pedestrians. Be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk.
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
- Follow the speed limit; slow down around pedestrians.
- Stay focused and slow down where children may be present, such as school zones and neighborhoods.
Keller & Keller Have Your Back in Indiana
If a driver’s mistake led to your injury or a loved one’s death in a pedestrian accident, call the experienced pedestrian accident attorneys at Keller & Keller. We protect the rights of all pedestrians, including the disabled. Call us at 800-253-5537 to schedule an appointment at one of our convenient Indiana locations.