For the past several weeks, California and most other states have had “stay at home” orders in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus. With more people at home and very few other exercise options at the moment, going out for walks individually or as a family has become a regular practice for many Californians during this time.
As the weather continues to warm up, pedestrian traffic is likely to continue increasing. And with more people working from home, vehicle traffic in Southern California has been a little lighter than usual. This, however, does not necessarily mean that the roads are safer. With fewer cars out there, it may be easier for motorists to speed and drive more recklessly, which could heighten the risk of an accident.
Prior to this year, pedestrian accidents had already been on the rise. Recently, the Governors Highway Association reported that there were 6,590 pedestrian fatalities in 2019, a 5% increase from 2018, and the highest number of pedestrian deaths in 30 years.
According to their report, most pedestrian fatalities take place on local roads, at night, and away from intersections. This suggests that more sidewalks and safer road crossings are needed to help prevent pedestrian crashes. Unsafe driving behaviors are another major contributor, and approximately 50% of all pedestrian accidents involve alcohol.
The conditions created by COVID-19 could cause the number of pedestrian accidents to go up, but it does not necessarily have to be this way. If we all do our part, we can help minimize the risks pedestrians have to take just to go out for a walk.
Here are some ways we can reduce pedestrian crashes in California:
- Be Seen: Do whatever you can to ensure that motorists see you when you are out walking. Wear brightly colored clothing if you are walking during the day, and lightly colored or reflective clothing if you are walking at night. Try to stay in areas where there is plenty of lighting and do your best to make eye contact with vehicle drivers before you cross the street in front of them.
- Be Predictable: Be familiar with all of the local traffic laws and follow them. Cross only at designated crosswalks and legal crossings and walk on sidewalks if one is available. If you must walk on the roads, walk as far to the right as you can.
- Be Focused: Stay aware of your surroundings and pay attention to what is ahead of you. Limit your cell phone use and avoid looking at your phone when you are crossing the road.
- Be Sober: As mentioned earlier, alcohol plays a role in about half of all pedestrian accidents, and in one third of those cases, it is the pedestrian who is intoxicated.
- Drive Safely: Speeding, reckless driving, and drowsy driving are among the major factors that contribute to pedestrian accidents. Get plenty of rest before driving, and always drive in a safe and lawful manner.
- Avoid Distraction: Distracted driving is another growing problem that is said to be contributing to the rise in pedestrian accidents. These days, drivers are continually distracted by their smartphones and the constant need to stay connected. Put your phone away when you drive, and if you must make a phone call, make sure you do so while the phone is in “hands-free” mode.
- Avoid Alcohol: In two-thirds of all alcohol related pedestrian crashes, it is the vehicle driver who is intoxicated. Drinking and driving does not mix. It is a criminal offense in California, and it is not acceptable under any circumstances.
- Watch for Pedestrians: With most pedestrian fatalities occurring on local roads, drivers need to be mindful of those who are out walking in their neighborhoods. Drive carefully through residential areas and be on the lookout for pedestrians.
Injured in a Pedestrian Accident in Southern California? Contact Garmo & Garmo for Assistance
If you or someone close to you got hurt in a pedestrian accident, you may have a right to significant compensation. But do not put your case on hold because of the limited court access due to the coronavirus. Although the court system is not moving as fast as normal, claims are still being filed, and the wheels of justice are still turning.
At Garmo & Garmo, we have several decades of experience successfully representing clients who have been injured in pedestrian accidents in El Cajon, San Diego, and communities throughout Southern California. Even during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain fully operational and able to serve your legal needs the way we always have.
To schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team, call us today at (619) 441-2500 or send us a message through our online contact form. We look forward to serving you!