Despite increases in vehicle safety, pedestrians are at a greater risk than ever of suffering injury or death due to vehicle-related accidents.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) reported 4,884 pedestrian fatalities and over 70,000 pedestrian injuries in 2014. The following year, fatalities rose nearly 10%, the largest jump on record.
Why the dramatic upswing in pedestrian accidents? Both drivers and pedestrians are chronically distracted, paying more attention to their phones than their surroundings. People are increasingly choosing to walk in an effort to improve their health or to save money. Both drivers and pedestrians are busier than ever, and they’re willing to cut corners (literally) in order to get to where they’re going.
Pedestrian Accidents in Philadelphia
In the Philadelphia area, many high-risk intersections are notorious for pedestrian accidents, particularly in Center City and near Septa transfer hubs.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, 38 pedestrians lost their lives and 1,548 others were injured in 2014. Despite the fact that local governments are devoting an enormous amount of time and resources to the improvement of safety conditions, many crosswalks and busy thoroughfares have yet to be upgraded.
The Primary Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
There are many causes of pedestrian car accidents and injuries, and most of them are highly preventable:
- Driving Under the Influence – This is the most common cause of vehicle accidents, pedestrian or otherwise. Nearly half of all pedestrian fatalities are the result of alcohol consumption by either the driver or the pedestrian.
- Driver Negligence – It takes just one second of failing to pay attention to the road for a catastrophic accident to occur. Drivers must obey all traffic signs and light signals and vigilantly scan for people at crosswalks, as the bulk of accidents occur when pedestrians are crossing multi-lane highways. Drivers are liable if they fail to signal when making a turn or if they ignore weather or traffic conditions.
- Distracted Driving – We’ve all done it: texting, talking, or scrolling on phones or other devices while driving or walking. This dangerous behavior has been linked to a high number of accidents in recent years, and despite the laws passed to discourage it, it persists relatively unabated.
- High Speeds – Just a 10 mph jump in a vehicle’s speed can shift a pedestrian’s fate from injury to loss of life. Driving over the speed limit has been the major culprit of many horrific pedestrian injuries and deaths since the advent of motor vehicles.
- Vehicle Blindspots – Despite safety improvements, there are some vehicle models that contain considerable blindspots, especially in commercial vans or trucks.
- Mechanical Failure – Signal light malfunctions and faulty brakes are just some of the examples of mechanical failure that can result in collisions.
Vehicle-related accidents aren’t the only unforeseen disaster that can injure or kill a pedestrian. Poor maintenance of sidewalks, buildings, parking lots, and construction sites creates hazardous conditions for anyone walking by. In such cases, multiple parties may be liable, and it is essential that the victim retain the services of an experienced attorney in order to navigate the complex terrain of a personal injury suit.
Pedestrians That Are Vulnerable to Accidents
The most vulnerable pedestrians are children between the ages of 5 and 9, and the elderly. Children are smaller, easily slipping past a driver’s vision, and their actions are often unpredictable. Elderly people are also commonly victims of pedestrian crashes due to their slower paces, deteriorating eyesight, and delayed reaction times.
Pedestrians often have a false sense of security, especially if they’re following crosswalk signs and signals. Pedestrians can be injured when stepping off a curb, exiting a bus or other vehicle, crossing parking lots or driveways, jogging on sidewalks, or simply standing on roadsides with little concern for what’s transpiring on the street.
What To Do If You Are the Victim of a Pedestrian Accident
Tragically, pedestrians injured in accidents may suffer health complications for years to come, forcing them into debt or even joblessness. Medical expenses are often exorbitant, especially if the injury requires long-term attention. Psychological trauma can also take its toll on the victim’s quality of life.
If you ever have the misfortune of being in a pedestrian accident, contact the police immediately. If you have insurance, call your provider, as some companies offer special provisions for injured pedestrians.
Don’t leave the scene of the accident until help arrives; on-sight witnesses are crucial to successfully presenting your claim in court. It’s also important to remember NOT to make any statements, especially to the vehicle driver or to insurers.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of a pedestrian accident, don’t hesitate to call the experienced auto accidents attorneys at Donaghue & Labrum. It is our mission to see that you receive the compensation you deserve to help you get back on your feet and into the next chapter of your life.