When we think of a “car accident,” we usually think of one car hitting another. However, cars occasionally hit objects like signs or poles. Sadly, cars sometimes also hit people. Pedestrian-car accidents are a serious issue.
If you’ve been involved in a pedestrian-car accident, you might have questions. We’ll do our best to answer them here.
Pedestrian-Car Accidents: More Common Than You Know
Even if you drive daily, you also spend time as a pedestrian. Whether walking through the neighborhood, strolling through a parking lot, or crossing a street, you live out part of your day as a pedestrian. So pedestrian safety matters to everyone.
The most recent statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) state that in 2019, pedestrians accounted for 17 percent of all traffic fatalities. This means that a pedestrian was killed every 85 minutes. While this is serious enough, the problem is worsening. Although road traffic decreased in 2020 due to stay-at-home orders, pedestrian deaths increased by over 20 percent.
The picture is similar in Alabama. According to a 2019 report from the Alabama Department of Transportation, pedestrian injuries and pedestrian deaths are rapidly increasing. In 2010, 63 traffic fatalities involved pedestrians. By 2019, that number had nearly doubled. Unfortunately, these numbers make Alabama number nine in the nation for deaths in pedestrian-car accidents.
Pedestrian-Car Accidents: Why They’re So Dangerous
The average sedan weighs about 3,500 pounds. The average person weighs about 180 pounds. When you add in the fact that cars are covered in metal and people are not, humans are at a distinct disadvantage in pedestrian-car accidents.
In addition, cars move much faster than people. When a car is moving quickly, it takes force to stop it. (Imagine slamming on your brakes.) However, all the energy that the car has built up has to go somewhere. (Imagine being thrust forward after you hit those brakes.) When a car hits something, it will transfer this energy to the hit object. Cars are built to absorb this impact. Humans are not.
When a 3,500-pound metal car hits a human body at a high speed, nothing good happens. The most common injuries in pedestrian-car accidents occur to the lower body (legs, knees, ankles), the head and neck, or the upper extremities (arms, elbows, wrists). Injured pedestrians can suffer broken bones or serious injuries to the neck, brain, or spine. However, because cars are so dangerous, accident injuries in any contact between a car and a human have the potential to be life-threatening or fatal.
Pedestrian-Car Accidents: Causes and Risk Factors
Any pedestrian can be hit by a car at any time. However, certain factors do seem to increase the risk of a collision.
Time of Day
Pedestrian-car accidents are far more common at night. In fact, nearly 80 percent of these impacts occur during nighttime hours.
City vs. Country
Over 80 percent of pedestrian-car crashes happen in cities.
Drivers tend to be distracted in parking lots, leading to increased accident risk.
Nearly 75 percent of pedestrian-car accidents happen outside of intersections.
Roughly 25 percent of all crashes involving pedestrians occur when a driver is making a left turn.
Alcohol and Drug Use
In almost half of pedestrian-car crashes, either the driver or the pedestrian had been recently drinking.
How to Avoid Pedestrian-Car Impacts
Both drivers and pedestrians have a role to play in preventing pedestrian-car crashes. Here are some safety tips drivers can follow to prevent pedestrian crashes:
- Be Observant. Always look for pedestrians – even if you don’t believe there are any nearby. Be especially observant around schools, parks, residential neighborhoods, bus stops, and other places where children might be.
- Don’t Drink and Drive. Alcohol greatly increases the risk of an accident. Driving sober will make it more likely that you will see a pedestrian and be able to react in a timely and safe manner.
- Stop at All Crosswalks. Be especially careful when making turns to ensure that all pedestrians have cleared the crossing. Be patient with children, seniors, and parents with strollers.
- Don’t Pass Illegally. If you illegally pass a stopped vehicle – especially one stopped at a crosswalk – you run the risk that there could be a pedestrian on the other side.
For their part, pedestrians can:
- Be visible. Because most pedestrian-car accidents happen at night, pedestrians can be safer by carrying lights or wearing brightly colored or reflective clothing.
- No Jaywalking. Since the vast majority of car-human accidents occur when a pedestrian makes their own path, only cross at the designated crosswalk. Teach children and teens to do the same.
- Never Cross against The Light. A driver may not see you and may not be able to stop in time if they do.
- No Distractions. Walking while distracted is nearly as dangerous as distracted driving. Put the phone down when crossing the street and pay attention to the cars.
- Look Both Ways Before Crossing. Your parents and your kindergarten teacher were right. Cars can appear quickly, so always double-check.
How an Attorney Can Help When a Pedestrian Is Hit by a Car
A pedestrian-car crash can lead to serious injuries, piles of medical bills, and lost income. But an attorney can help you with these issues.
First, a personal injury attorney can help you deal with insurance companies. If you’re hit by a car while walking, you’ll likely need to speak to the driver’s insurance company as well as your own medical insurer. An experienced accident attorney can help you talk to these companies without harming your recovery.
Second, a car crash attorney can help you with legal issues. For instance, the driver might argue that the accident was your fault. Under Alabama law, this could keep you from recovering anything. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you respond to these arguments.
Third, a lawyer can help you maximize your damages. In addition to your physical injuries and medical bills, you might be entitled to recover for other things like pain and suffering. An injury lawyer knows how to make these arguments.
Do You Have Questions about Pedestrian-Car Accidents?
Hopefully, this post has taught you a bit about the safety issues involved in pedestrian crashes. If you have more questions about pedestrian safety or if you’ve suffered a pedestrian injury, please contact Collins Law, LLC. Our firm can handle your personal injury claim and help you get the compensation you deserve. Call (205) 881-0403 or click here to schedule a free consultation.