On average, a pedestrian is killed in a collision every one and a half hours. In 2016, 16 percent of all traffic fatalities involved pedestrians. Last year, motor vehicle crashes killed 6,227 pedestrians.
While fatalities have been reduced for other road users, pedestrian fatalities have risen 35 percent over the past decade.
It's a disturbing trend that safety advocates are frantically trying to turn around.
The cause is thought to be related to the increase in SUVs on the road. Their size and weight, along with a higher front-end, means anyone struck by an SUV is more likely to suffer life-threatening injuries.
More Americans are also choosing to walk to work for their health or to save money.
Unsafe driving behaviors, such as speeding, distracted and drowsy driving, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, always pose a threat to a pedestrian's safety. In fact, alcohol impairment for drivers and/or pedestrians was reported in nearly half of traffic crashes with a pedestrian fatality in 2017.
Where and When Pedestrian Accidents Happen
Pedestrians can be hit by a car anywhere at any time, even in the safest neighborhoods. But certain circumstances and decisions can increase the risk of being struck while out walking.
Pedestrians are more likely to be hit while out taking a walk or visiting an attraction in urban and suburban areas because of the higher volume of traffic.
The middle chart shows that 72 percent of people are hit by a car while crossing the street outside of the crosswalk area. This could be because they are impatient and choose to jaywalk across a busy road or there aren't any crosswalks in their area and they are forced to make a risky decision.
The other 28 percent of pedestrians hit by a motor vehicle were using crosswalks, sidewalks, parking lots and other areas.
In the last chart, we can see that three-quarters of pedestrians are struck when it is completely dark outside. A person walking at night is harder to see, especially if they are wearing dark clothing and in an unlit area. This is also the time when there are more drunk and tired drivers on the roads.
Atlanta and its suburbs have a long way to go to protect pedestrians and improve walkability. In many areas, pedestrians are an afterthought, with limited sidewalks and crosswalks available.
In the past few months, several roadway collisions have left pedestrians seriously injured or dead:
- A man in Clayton County was arrested after he hit a pedestrian on Jonesboro Road with his car and kept driving.
- A pedestrian was struck and killed at Spaghetti Junction.
- In Macon, two people who were helping a stranded ambulance driver returned to their car, only to be struck from behind by a tractor-trailer.
- A 28-year-old male using a crosswalk in Morrow, Georgia, was killed in a hit and run.
- A female pedestrian in Albany, Georgia, was injured after a wreck caused one of the involved vehicles to hit her while she was using the crosswalk.
Pedestrian Safety - Walking Tips
Unfortunately, pedestrian accidents can happen anywhere, whether you're walking your dog or going for a run. But there are some things you can do decrease your risk of a collision.
Here are nine tips to keep you safe while walking:
- Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
- Stay alert and observe your surroundings. Don't let your phone distract you from the road.
- Walk on sidewalks. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the side of the road facing traffic. Do not walk on the road itself - keep as far from traffic as possible!
- Always use a crosswalk whenever possible. While crossing, pay attention to oncoming cars, especially those that may be turning left or right.
- If a crosswalk isn't available, find a brightly lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a lull in traffic that allows you enough time to get across safely. Continue watching for traffic as you cross.
- Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they get close to ensure you are seen.
- Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways and parking lots, or backing up.
- Be visible at all times. Wear bright clothing and use reflective materials or a flashlight at night.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking - they impair your abilities and your judgment.
Keeping Pedestrians Safe - Driving Tips
Drivers have an even greater responsibility in keeping pedestrians safe. Here are seven tips to keep in mind and practice while driving:
- Be on the lookout for pedestrians everywhere, at all times.
- Use extra caution when driving at night or in bad weather.
- Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk. Yield to pedestrians.
- Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. There may be people crossing who you can't see.
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
- Follow the speed limit. If you're in a neighborhood, school zone, or in an area pedestrians frequent, slow down.
- Be extra cautious when backing up - someone could unexpectedly walk behind your car.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
Pedestrian accidents represent a serious type of personal injury case. The body bears the full brunt of the impact. Worse, many drivers flee the scene of the accident, leaving their victims hurt and in a potentially dangerous situation.
If you've been involved in a pedestrian crash, hit and run, or had a loved hit and killed by a car, we encourage you to call us today at (770) 934-8000 for a free review of your case.
The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can collect the police report and other important evidence from the scene. We'll help get your medical bills paid and guide you through the process of filing a claim. We'll even cover all of the costs out of our own funds until we win your case.
How Did Your Pedestrian Accident Happen?