Drivers and passengers in cars and trucks, on motorcycles, and even on bicycles all expect to share the road safely. However, less attention is devoted to the dangers for pedestrians as they make their way near our nation’s roadways.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 4,700 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in 2013. The NHTSA states that a pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every eight minutes as a result of auto accidents. The state of Delaware has the unfortunate distinction of being known as the deadliest state for pedestrians. In Delaware, approximately 2.7 pedestrians were killed per 100,000 people, the highest in the nation. So, what is putting our state’s citizens at risk, and what can be done to keep those on foot safe near our roads?
The Risks to Pedestrians in Delaware
The NHTSA defines a pedestrian as “any person on foot, walking, running, jogging, hiking, sitting, or lying down who is involved in a motor vehicle traffic crash.” Obviously, pedestrians have little protection when they are involved in accidents with vehicles, leaving them open to more severe injuries. Some of the common characteristics of pedestrian accidents include:
- Urban setting. Approximately 76 percent of pedestrian accidents occurred in urban areas in 2014.
- Lack of crosswalk. Roads are designed to be used primarily by vehicles, and there are many locations where it is difficult to find an appropriate place to cross the road on foot. As a result, pedestrians may attempt to traverse the road where there is no protection for them. This is a significant factor in Delaware, as the state features many multi-lane roads and divided highways.
- Alcohol. Use of alcohol both by drivers and pedestrians puts those on foot at risk. An impaired driver is less able to spot and react to a pedestrian in the roadway. The NHTSA estimates that about one-third of pedestrians involved in accidents in 2013 had a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher.
- Time of day. Not surprisingly, more accidents occur at night, when it is more difficult to see pedestrians.
- Beach Traffic. There have been a large number of pedestrian accidents on Route 1 in Rehoboth and Dewey Beach.
Vehicular accidents involving pedestrians may also be due to distracted driving, speeding, quick turns through crosswalks, and parked cars along the roadway that reduce visibility.
Common Injuries to Pedestrians
Pedestrians are much more vulnerable to serious injury when involved in accidents. They have little to no protection against the much larger and heavier vehicles. As a result, pedestrians can suffer a number of serious injuries, including:
- Bone fractures
- Head injuries
- Leg injuries
- Pelvic injuries
When pedestrians suffer these injuries and more, they often face a long road to recovery. Many times, they are left in pain and unable to work. In some cases, the pedestrian may die. In these situations, victims and their families are able to pursue compensation to ensure continued medical care and financial security. A personal injury lawsuit can help victims seek justice and obtain the resources they may desperately need. A skilled attorney can help determine if you may be eligible to file a claim and how best to proceed.
Staying Safe as a Pedestrian
Pedestrians have every right to appropriately share road space. Safety groups and experts offer a number of tips for pedestrians to help keep them safe. When walking near or crossing a street, people on foot should:
- Use crosswalks. Drivers are expecting to see pedestrians in those locations; they are not typically anticipating people in the roadway in other unmarked locations.
- Stay on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing oncoming traffic.
- Be visible. If you know you’ll be walking at night, wear bright clothing and carry a light.
- Exercise caution. Do not travel on foot if you have been drinking alcohol or using drugs.
Even when pedestrians exercise care and caution, accidents can still happen. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in an accident, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced lawyers at the Morris James Personal Injury Group have represented many pedestrians, and our legal team can answer your questions and help you decide how to best move forward. Fill out our online contact form today to get started and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.