When motor vehicles strike pedestrians, the results are often catastrophic. This is a fact that pedestrian accident lawyers know all too well. Pedestrian safety zones are spaces or areas of a roadway that are meant for the exclusive use of pedestrians. The most common examples of pedestrian safety zones include sidewalks, crosswalks, and designated footpaths. Pedestrian safety zones are generally marked with cones, paint, delineators or other mediums to make them highly visible.
Every year in the United States, careless and intoxicated motorists kill more than 6,000 pedestrians, and despite the fact that pedestrian fatalities are declining in some states, the national average increased 46% from 2010 to 2019, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). In the same time period, all other traffic deaths increased by only 5%.
Since motor vehicle collisions involving pedestrians are some of the most avoidable type of traffic accidents, their sharp increase over the last decade or so is a senseless one; there are lots of things motorists and pedestrians can do to reduce their risk of being involved in an accident.
How Motorists Can Avoid a Pedestrian Accident
Obey Speed Limits
Speed kills, and authorities put speed limits in place for the sole purpose of saving lives. Speeding by a few mph may not seem like a big deal, but it’s often the difference between a close call and a severe injury. Reaction time, braking and speed are closely related. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it takes roughly half a football field to come to a complete stop when traveling at 30 mph.
Additionally, motorists should keep in mind that authorities set speed limits with perfect road conditions in mind. A lot of people think it’s their braking system that stops their vehicle, but it’s actually friction between the vehicle’s tires and the road. Wet, snowy, or icy roads reduce this friction and greatly affect stopping distance.
Bad road conditions cause a lot of accidents, and drivers should reduce their speed accordingly. As such, drivers can get a ticket for driving too fast for conditions even if they’re traveling at or below the posted speed limit. In Pennsylvania, police will cite drivers who fail to reduce their speed when driving during bad weather conditions.
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents in the United States, and accidents involving distracted drivers have skyrocketed in recent years, largely due to cellular phones. This is especially true when it comes to teens and young adults; an NHTSA survey found that 20% of drivers age 18-20 and 30% of drivers age 21-34 don’t believe that texting and driving has any negative impact on their driving. According to Pennsylvania law, drivers can talk on their phones while driving, but it’s illegal to text while operating a motor vehicle.
Keep an Eye Out for Pedestrian Safety Zones
Because pedestrian safety zones are separated from the main roadway and clearly marked, pedestrians feel safer and are more apt to ignore their surroundings. Because of this, they are at an increased risk of being injured by a motorist who ignores or doesn’t notice one of these zones.
What Pedestrians Can Do to Avoid Being Struck by Motorists
This is a big one. In a perfect world, pedestrians would be free to let their minds wander and rely on drivers to be 100% attentive. In reality, this is a terrible practice. Pedestrians should always stay alert and never assume that motorists can see them.
Be Especially Careful When Walking at Night
Seventy-five percent of pedestrian fatalities in 2019 happened at night. To reduce the risk of adding to this statistic, pedestrians should be vigilant when walking at night and avoid wearing dark clothing so that motorists can spot them more easily.
Walk in the Opposite Direction of Traffic
This seems like an obvious one, but a lot of people find it natural to walk on the same side of the road on which they would drive. This is a bad idea; people are much more likely to escape a dangerous situation when they can see the threat coming.
Lose the Headphones
While music can be great for alleviating the monotony of a long walk, hearing is one of the best defenses against danger. Foregoing headphones or substantially lowering their volume will help keep pedestrians safe.
Final Thoughts on Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian safety zones are a great idea and make the roads safer, but they should never take the place of awareness. If a motorist has struck you or a loved one, the road to recovery could be long and expensive, and you should talk to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to find out what your legal options are.
Shrager, Sachs, & Blanco has experience handling complex motor vehicle accident claims in Pennsylvania and is prepared to whatever it takes to get justice for you or a loved one who has been seriously injured in a preventable accident. To learn how we can help, get in touch with our Philadelphia law firm today.