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Published On: Sun, Jun 28th, 2020

Pedestrian Accidents: A Serious Problem With Deadly Consequences

Did you know that thousands of American pedestrians are killed each year as a result of traffic crashes and motor vehicle accidents? Thousands more are treated in emergency room departments for nonfatal injuries. And the more we understand about the causes of these incidents, the faster we can come up with solutions that work. 

The Lowdown on Pedestrian Safety

The CDC reports that 5,977 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in the United States during the 2017 calendar year. That equates to roughly one death every hour and a half. Furthermore, 137,000 pedestrians were treated in emergency room departments around the nation for nonfatal crash-related injuries. 

Because of their vulnerable position, pedestrians are 1.5-times more likely (per trip to the emergency room) than occupants of a passenger vehicle to be killed in a car crash.

And if you peel back the data, you’ll find some more alarming trends. For example, pedestrian deaths in car crashes have increased 39 percent since 2010, while injuries have risen an alarming 95 percent over that same period of time. And unless something is done to keep pedestrians safer, it’s possible that these numbers will continue to balloon.

photo/ OpenClipart-Vectors

Interestingly, it’s people at both ends of the age spectrum that seem to face the most risk in regards to pedestrian injuries and fatalities. The CDC data reveals that pedestrians aged 65 and older accounted for 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths and roughly 10 percent of all pedestrian injuries in 2017. Likewise, 20 percent of all children killed in traffic incidents in that year were pedestrians.

Major Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

Though it is possible for a pedestrian to be at fault in a car crash, the blame overwhelmingly falls on the shoulders of drivers. Here are some of the major causes:

 

  • Distracted Driving

 

According to data curated by Console & Associates, P.C., 1 in 4 car accidents is caused by texting and driving – a form of distracted driving that has deadly consequences for both pedestrians and passenger vehicle occupants.

Other forms of distracted driving include listening to the radio, fiddling with navigation systems, eating food, and interacting with kids or passengers in the backseat. Each of these actions has the ability to take the driver’s attention away from the road, which results in momentary lapses of focus and judgment.

Drivers need to eliminate sources of distraction – such as handheld devices – and be more focused on the road. Similarly, pedestrians should be more aware of the distracted nature of drivers and stay alert and focused, particularly when approaching intersections and crosswalks.

 

  • Lack of Experience

 

There’s a reason teenage drivers are considered a higher risk for accidents and collisions than the rest of the driving population. And while some of it is due to poor decision-making skills and judgment, much of it stems from their lack of experience. 

Inexperienced drivers lack the understanding and “feel” of how to drive safely, particularly when it comes to congested roads with other vehicles and pedestrians. And though there are plenty of ways to train and educate young drivers, there’s no substitute for more practice.

 

  • Confusion Over Road Rules

 

One of the biggest problems/causes of pedestrian accidents is confusion over road rules. (This goes both ways.) Many drivers and pedestrians aren’t aware of right of way laws and rules. This causes vehicles to turn when pedestrians have the right of way, or pedestrians to walk through an intersection when drivers are clear to proceed.

Confusion over road rules often comes into play when people are outside of their normal environment. For example, when rural drivers come into busy cities, they often aren’t well-versed on crosswalk right of way rules. (Same thing for pedestrians.)

crashed car scene of accident

Photo by Michael Jin on Unsplash

 

  • Alcohol Consumption

 

Drinking and driving has and always will cause a disproportionate number of fatal crashes. And because most drinking and driving accidents occur at night, when it’s more difficult to see pedestrians, it makes sense that they’re one of the primary causes of pedestrian accidents.

Finding the Right Solutions

Keeping both drivers and pedestrians safe should continue to be a priority in 2020 and beyond. Stricter traffic laws and more awareness of this public health and safety issue will help suppress numbers and save thousands of lives each year. 

It’s up to all of us to do our part to make our streets safer for everyone.

Author: Anna Johansson

photo/Claim Accident Services

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