Pedestrian Crossing SignalThe number of pedestrians dying after being hit by cars is climbing steeply even as city planners re-engineer urban spaces to keep walkers safe and car manufacturers add technology meant to do the same. Whether you walk for pleasure or to get to work, a few miles or a few blocks, at some point in nearly every day you’re likely to be a pedestrian on a city or country road or within a parking lot. You may naturally wonder, what can pedestrians do to keep themselves safe from cars?

If you’ve been injured as a pedestrian hit by a negligent driver, or have lost a loved one in a pedestrian traffic fatality, we urge you to call an experienced personal injury attorney immediately. When you retain a lawyer, he or she will begin dealing with insurance companies directly, allowing you time to heal from injuries or grieve the tragic loss of someone dear to you and begin to rebuild your life.

While pedestrians and drivers both share responsibility for avoiding collisions, those on foot are obviously at a far greater risk of injury, so they need to exercise an even greater level of caution than a driver. Here are some dangers to avoid when walking:

  • Darkness
  • Intoxication
  • Crossing mid-street
  • Distraction

Darkness tops the list of dangers. 75% of pedestrians were killed at night in 2017, according to a study by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). Over a 10-year study period, fully 90% of pedestrians died while walking at night. If you prefer to or must walk at night, it’s crucial to take safety measures such as making yourself as visible as possible with light-colored clothing or reflective gear. Remain aware of your surroundings and any traffic on streets you cross. Cross in well-lighted areas using marked crosswalks, if at all possible.

While 17% of drivers involved in a fatal pedestrian crash in 2017 were at or above legal impairment, the number of pedestrians found to have a BAC of 0.08 (legally impaired) or higher was significantly greater. In fact, 32% of those on foot who were killed in a traffic accident * were intoxicated. For years, safety advocates have advised those who drink to rely on a designated driver or pay for a ride home rather than drive. Those who walk as an alternative to driving drunk should instead find a sober ride rather than risk endangering themselves as pedestrians.

While it’s tempting to cross the street mid-block when the door you plan to enter is right across from you, keep in mind that 72% of pedestrian fatalities happen somewhere other than an intersection, according to the GHSA study. Again, cross at a corner, ideally one that has a marked crosswalk and pedestrian crossing signals.

These days, it’s easier than ever to be less attuned to your surroundings. Whether you’re listening to music or a podcast with earbuds, or walking with your eyes focused on your phone as you type and read texts, you make yourself much more vulnerable to being hit by a car when you enter a street without properly listening and looking for traffic. Even if you’re at a corner and have confirmed you have a crossing signal, you may miss someone turning into the lane from the cross street, turning right at a red light while traveling on the street you’re crossing, or even running a red light. While the driver may be more at fault, you’re the one who could end up seriously injured. Remember, it’s better to protect yourself than to try to argue from a hospital bed that you had the right-of-way.

While following the advice offered above can help protect you when you’re walking, it’s just as important to keep these dangers in mind when you’re behind the wheel. When you yourself understand behaviors that make those on foot more vulnerable, you will be more prepared to avoid a collision with a pedestrian.

If you have been injured in a traffic accident while walking, or have lost a loved one, contact our office today. We have successfully handled many auto-pedestrian cases. Suk Law Firm was founded to help victims hurt by the negligence of others and has recovered more than $125 million on behalf of clients. We’re ready to assist you.

Besides Rochester, we serve the following major southeast Minnesota cities: Red Wing, Winona, Mankato, Austin, Albert Lea, and Owatonna, and all outlying communities, as well as the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Bloomington. We also serve the Iowa cities of Mason City, Charles City, Osage, Spencer, Garner, Forest City, and Northwood and the Wisconsin cities of La Crosse, Onalaska, Sparta, Viroqua, River Falls, Ellsworth, Whitehall, and Black River Falls.

*A note about language:

Federal agencies involved in traffic safety have banned use of the word “accident” for more than 20 years, and with good reason. However, we use the word “accident” on our website, even though we know it has implications that run contrary to our professional thinking and training, because we recognize that “accident” is the word most commonly used in online searches when people are looking for help after being injured in a crash. If you’d like more information about this topic, please see our blog, “Car Accident or Car Crash?”