Pedestrians face risks every day due to the actions of drivers and sometimes from their own actions. In 2016, the last year for which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has published a pedestrian fatality report, 6,000 pedestrians lost their lives in the United States. To put this in perspective, one pedestrian dies every two hours due to injuries sustained in a collision with a car, truck, motorcycle, or other motorized form of transportation. Additionally, a person on foot suffers an injury every seven minutes and the number of pedestrian deaths continues to rise each year.
Pedestrian accidents happen in all seasons in California due to our pleasant year-round climate. However, they tend to peak in the summer with more tourists visiting all parts of the state and children being out of school until September. Other reasons for pedestrian accidents in California include the state’s large population, inadequate public transportation system, and the number of miles driven by each driver. In California, 22% of fatal accidents involve pedestrians. This is much higher than the national average of 14%.
Typical Causes of Collisions Between Pedestrians and Drivers
As with other types of accidents, distracted driving is a leading cause of pedestrian accidents. This includes such things as talking on the phone, texting, changing the radio station, looking at signs on the side of the road, eating, and related activities. It only takes a moment of driver inattention for a tragedy to occur. The faster the driver is going, the less likely he or she can stop the car in time to avoid a collision. Other common causes of these types of accidents include:
- Driving or walking while impaired: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs slows a person’s reflexes and impairs his or her judgment. A person on foot may also act recklessly while under the influence, such as stepping out into traffic in the middle of the road rather than waiting at a controlled intersection.
- Speeding: A driver should always slow down when approaching an intersection. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. It can be impossible to stop the car to avoid hitting a pedestrian when going too fast in the first place.
- Turning left: Drivers are three times as likely to strike a pedestrian when turning left than when turning right. The fact that drivers looks left at an intersection while a pedestrian typically looks straight ahead partially explains this. These actions increase the likelihood that the driver and pedestrian won’t see each other until it’s too late.
- Approaching an unmarked crosswalk: Unmarked crosswalks tend to cause confusion for both drivers and pedestrians. Without clear guidance on how to proceed, both may think they know what the other is going to do and end up colliding with one another.
A person on foot has no protection against a vehicle weighing up to 2,000 pounds. This accounts for the significant and sometimes fatal injuries that pedestrians suffer. However, pedestrians can do several things to protect themselves, including:
- Always walk in the same direction as traffic
- Wear light-colored clothing
- Use crosswalks and wait for the walk signal when crossing the street
- Avoid using a smartphone, listening to music through headphones, and walking after consuming alcohol or drugs
Types of Injuries Commonly Suffered by Pedestrians
A pedestrian who survives a collision with a vehicle often must live with significant injuries for the rest of his or her life. This includes such things as spinal cord damage, paralysis, traumatic brain injury, damage to internal organs, and disfigurement. Even seemingly lesser injuries such as cuts and broken bones can have a devastating impact on quality of life.
An injured pedestrian may be unable to return to work temporarily or permanently. This makes it difficult to pay the mounting medical expenses he or she faces. Victims have two years in California to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover these costs as well as receive payment for non-monetary effects of the accident such as pain and suffering.
Visit Us for a Free Consultation
The El Cajon law office of Garmo & Garmo, Attorneys at Law, offer free legal consultations for all new clients. We invite you to contact us at 619-441-2500 to request a free review of your case. Our personal injury attorneys will advise you on next steps should you decide to retain our firm to represent you.