With government groups and safety advocates constantly striving to improve the safety of roads, traffic fatalities have been trending down in recent years. However, pedestrians are still at risk of serious injury and death. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 4,700 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in 2013, and Delaware is the most deadly state for pedestrians.
Delaware’s Pedestrian Problems
Pedestrians were twice more likely to be killed in Delaware in 2012 and 2013 than in any other state. Last year, the NHTSA reported 2.7 fatalities per 100,000 people—the highest in the nation. Many of the accidents involved pedestrians attempting to cross multi-lane roads, often outside a crosswalk. In many places, crosswalks are far apart, prompting pedestrians to not use them. Alcohol use was also a factor. Over the past decade, pedestrian and driver alcohol use has played a part in 45 percent of fatal accidents involving Delaware pedestrians.
New Crosswalk Beacons Promote Pedestrian Safety
In response to the problem, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) has launched a safety campaign aimed at increasing awareness of pedestrian safety and is piloting a new type of crosswalk beacon.
DelDOT is installing the first Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacon (RRFB) in the state. An RRFB is meant to enhance safety by making pedestrian crossings more visible. It faces oncoming vehicular traffic and features rectangular lights that flash in a rapid stutter pattern, with signs warning drivers of the pedestrian crossing. The flashes are irregular and only light up when actuated, helping make them more noticeable to drivers. This type of beacon can be actuated by the pedestrian pushing a button or automatically through a pedestrian detection system.
Use of RRFBs in other states has shown to increase driver awareness and encourages drivers to yield to pedestrians.
Tips for Pedestrian Safety
The NHTSA offers a number of tips for pedestrians to help keep them safe near the roads.
- Walk on the sidewalk if possible. If no sidewalk is available, walk facing traffic.
- Cross at crosswalks where drivers are expecting to see pedestrians. Never assume a driver sees you.
- Be visible. Carry a light if you’re walking at night.
- Avoid walking near roads after using alcohol or drugs.
Even when pedestrians are careful, accidents can happen. If you or someone you love suffered injuries after being hit by a car, you may be entitled to take legal action. Contact us, or chat live with a member of the experienced legal team at Morris James.