Who is responsible for pedestrian safety? When a motor vehicle accident occurs and a pedestrian is hit by a car, who is liable for the injuries or wrongful deaths that occur? The fact is, everyone is responsible for pedestrian safety. This includes drivers, pedestrians themselves, employers, and government entities responsible for constructing and maintaining safe pathways for pedestrians to utilize. When any one of these parties acts negligently, they can be held liable for the accidents, personal injuries, and wrongful deaths that occur.
Pedestrian Fatalities and Injuries Are on the Rise
In 2016, 5,987 pedestrians died in motor vehicle accidents. This is approximately 1.5 fatalities per hour. The risks are rising and in 2017, 6,227 pedestrians died in accidents which represents a 28-year high in the number of pedestrian fatalities. Since 2008, the number of fatalities has risen an alarming 41%.
In 2015, 129,000 pedestrians required treatment in hospital emergency rooms. While many people feel walking is safer than driving, the reality is that pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely to suffer a fatality on each trip than the occupants of a passenger vehicle.
Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Alcohol use is a leading cause of pedestrian fatalities and 48% of pedestrian fatalities involve either an inebriated driver or intoxicated pedestrian. Most pedestrian fatalities occur in urban areas where pedestrians are more likely to share crowded roads with vehicular traffic. However, that does not mean rural roads are safe, as many of these are not clearly marked and there is limited space for vehicles and pedestrians to share.
In 2016, 72% of fatalities occurred at non-intersections, and 75% occurred at night. This highlights the importance of not "jaywalking," and wearing the proper reflective gear during periods of low light and limited visibility. Based on fatality rates, those between the ages of 50-59 are at greatest risk of suffering a fatal pedestrian accident.
90% of pedestrian fatalities occur in single-vehicle accidents. Most of these accidents involve the front end of the vehicle striking the pedestrian. Approximately 20% of pedestrian fatalities involve a hit-and-run driver. For this reason, many states have adopted legislation that enhances penalties for motorists who leave the scene of an accident involving a pedestrian.
Reducing the Risk
Based on population, the most dangerous states to go for a walk are New Mexico, Florida, South Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, and Texas. Drivers can reduce the risk by closely monitoring the road for pedestrian activity and allowing for extra stopping distance in inclement weather conditions. Pedestrians can reduce the risk by sticking to sidewalks, crossing streets only at marked intersections, and avoiding travel down roads where sidewalks and bike paths are not present or are obstructed.
Brad Pistotnik Law is a Wichita law firm that represents pedestrians hit by cars in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas, Florida, Missouri, and Illinois. Contact us today for more information about the legal rights pedestrians have in these states and the compensation they can pursue when they are hit by a car.