What are the Most Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents?

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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 6,200 pedestrians were fatally injured in car accidents in 2019. Pedestrians are particularly vulnerable to serious or fatal personal injuries if they are hit by a car because there is nothing protecting them from the impact of an accident. Even if a motor vehicle is traveling at a slow speed at the time of the accident, the pedestrian who was hit can suffer very serious injuries.

With spring right around the corner, more pedestrians will be out and about enjoying the warmer temperatures. Therefore, motorists are urged to use extra caution, follow the rules of the road, and keep their attention focused on the road and on the other motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians who are in the vicinity. Victims of a pedestrian accident are urged to contact an experienced car accident lawyer for assistance.

Who is Most Likely to be Involved in a Pedestrian Accident?

Anytime a pedestrian is walking or running on a road where cars are coming and going, he or she is in danger of being hit by a vehicle. However, there are people who are at greater risk of being hit than others. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following people are most at risk for being involved in a pedestrian accident:

  • Men are more likely to be injured in a pedestrian accident than women.
  • Teens and adult pedestrians up to age 29 are more likely to be treated in the emergency room for pedestrian accidents than any other age group.
  • People’s risk for suffering a fatal injury from a pedestrian accident increases with age.
  • Close to 35 percent of pedestrians who suffered fatal injuries in a pedestrian accident had a 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration or higher.
  • Children are more likely to be fatally injured when hit by a car than adults. In fact, 20 percent of traffic fatalities involving children who were 14 years old or younger were involved in a pedestrian accident.
  • Pedestrians who are walking at night are more likely to be hit by a car than people who are walking or running during the day. In addition, pedestrians are at greater risk of being hit by a car in an urban setting compared with a more rural area.

What are the Top Causes of Pedestrian Accidents?

Pedestrian accidents are usually far more traumatic than accidents involving two vehicles because the pedestrian who is hit will likely suffer very serious, if not fatal injuries. By understanding some of the most common causes of devastating pedestrian accidents, motorists and pedestrians can take steps to prevent them.

  • Distracted drivers: When motorists’ attention is not focused on the road ahead, there is an increased risk of a pedestrian accident. In addition, pedestrians who are not paying attention to their surroundings put themselves at risk for being hit by a car. For example, if a pedestrian is sending or reading a text or is otherwise distracted while crossing the street, he or she may not realize that a car is coming. This can have tragic consequences.
  • Impaired drivers: If a motorist is driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, not only is there an increased risk for a car accident, but also the impaired driver may not notice a pedestrian walking on the road or crossing the street. Pedestrians who are walking at night should be extremely careful and stay off the road if a driver shows signs of being impaired.
  • Reckless drivers: When a motorist does not obey the traffic laws because he or she is frustrated, impatient, or angry, it can seriously endanger the lives of pedestrians who are in the vicinity of that driver. For example, an impatient driver who tries to rush through a light before it turns red can hit a pedestrian who is crossing the street. In addition, a driver who is speeding or driving recklessly may hit a pedestrian who is in the crosswalk.
  • Inclement weather: Motorists have a responsibility to use extra caution when driving during bad weather. That means slowing down, knowing how to react if the vehicle starts hydroplaning, and being aware of surroundings. Pedestrians should also be extremely careful when the weather is bad. Snow, ice, rain, fog, and heavy winds can cause motorists to lose control of their vehicles if they do not take the necessary precautions.
  • Road construction: Although road construction can cause increased traffic and other minor inconveniences, it can also force pedestrians to walk in areas where motorists may not expect them to be. This can increase the risk of a pedestrian being hit by a car, particularly during inclement weather or at night when visibility is compromised.
  • Pedestrians wearing dark clothing: Pedestrian accidents increase as the sun goes down and visibility becomes an issue. Pedestrians who are walking or running after dark should always wear bright or reflective clothing or carry a flashlight so that oncoming vehicles can see the pedestrian, particularly if he or she is crossing the street.
  • Motorists making left turns: Too often, motorists will make a left turn as soon as the signal turns green but fail to make sure that there are no pedestrians crossing the street. A busy intersection requires motorists to negotiate many things at once, including traffic signals, vehicles coming from different directions, and following the rules of the road. If a motorist is concentrating on multiple things at once, he or she may not notice a pedestrian crossing the street.
  • Backing-up accidents: Oftentimes, when a motorist is backing out of a driveway, parking lot, or alley, they may not see a pedestrian approaching. Some of the most tragic backing-up accidents occur when a vehicle is backing out of a driveway and the driver hits a small child who they do not see in their rearview mirror.

What Injuries Do Pedestrian Accidents Cause?

When a pedestrian is hit by a car, the resulting injuries are often quite serious, particularly if the vehicle was traveling at a high speed. In addition, pedestrians are more likely to suffer a fatal injury if they are hit by an SUV because of its higher center of gravity. The following are the most common types of injuries that pedestrians suffer if they are hit by a car:

  • Lower extremity injuries: Close to half of all pedestrians who have been hit by a car suffer injuries to the lower part of the body, including the legs, feet, pelvis, and hips. Injuries include trauma to the ligaments and muscles, fractures, lacerations, and broken bones.
  • Neck, face, and head injuries: These injuries occur when the neck, face, or head hits the windshield or the hood of the car. Examples of injuries include shoulder displacement, vertebrae injuries, jaw fractures, skull damage, neck injuries, lacerations, and concussions.
  • Upper extremity injuries: These injuries occur if the pedestrian lands on the hood or is tossed over the vehicle. Examples of musculoskeletal injuries include fractures to the hands, fingers, arms, or shoulders; joint dislocations; and serious cuts and lacerations.

What can I Do to Prevent a Pedestrian Accident?

Pedestrian fatalities increased by 27 percent from 2007 to 2016. Fortunately, many of these tragic accidents can be prevented by making safety a priority. There are several steps drivers and pedestrians can take to avoid being involved in a pedestrian accident. Motorists can do the following:

  • Watch for pedestrians at all times.
  • When driving at night or during inclement weather, use extra caution.
  • When approaching a crosswalk, always be prepared to stop. Always yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Do not attempt to pass a vehicle that is stopped at a crosswalk.
  • Obey the speed limit, particularly when driving in a school zone or anywhere there are children present.
  • Use extra caution when backing up.
  • Never get behind the wheel after consuming drugs or alcohol.

Pedestrians are urged to keep the following safety tips in mind:

  • Always walk on sidewalks if they are available. If there is no sidewalk, always walk facing traffic and as far away from oncoming traffic as possible.
  • Stay alert and aware of oncoming vehicles.
  • Avoid using electronic devices that can be distracting.
  • When wearing headphones when walking or running, pedestrians should keep the volume low enough so that they can hear other vehicles, as well as cyclists approaching from behind.
  • Always make eye contact with a driver before crossing the street.
  • Wear brightly colored clothing, or reflective gear when walking at night.
  • Be careful when passing driveways, parking lots, or alleys.
  • Use designated crosswalks when crossing the street. Motorists are more likely to be looking for pedestrians when there is a crosswalk.

Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Victims of Pedestrian Accidents

If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a pedestrian accident, it is in your best interest to contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We understand how devastating these accidents can be and the severe, often fatal injuries that pedestrians suffer when struck by an automobile. Our skilled and dedicated legal team will assist you with every step of the claims process and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.