According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 4,432 people died in pedestrian accidents in 2011, up from 4,302 the year before. In other words, a pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every eight minutes in traffic accidents.
Pedestrian Accident Facts
Many pedestrian accidents share some things in common. Of the 2011 pedestrian deaths:
- 73% occurred in urban settings.
- 19% occurred at an intersection.
- 70% occurred at a “non-intersection.”
- 88% occurred when the weather was clear or cloudy, compared with 9% in the rain.
- 70% occurred at night with 32% happening between 8 and 11:59 p.m.
The elderly accounted for 19% of all fatalities and 10% of all injuries. Their fatality rate when involved in accidents like this is 2.04 per 100,000, which the NHTSA reports (pdf) is higher than any other age group. In other words, an elderly pedestrian who is involved in an accident is more likely to die than someone younger.
Top Tips for Pedestrian Safety
It makes sense to always cross at an intersection to reduce your risk of being involved in an accident. Also, walking is safer during daylight hours than at night.
Other pedestrian safety tips include:
- Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and traffic signals.
- Always stay alert and don’t be distracted by electronic devices.
- Look for cars coming from all directions before you cross.
- If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far away from vehicles as you can.
- Watch for vehicles entering and exiting driveways and parking lots.
- Make eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you.
- If there is no crosswalk, cross at a well-lit intersection
The same tips are useful whether you are 8 or 80 years old. If you are a parent, reviewing these tips can help keep your child safe while walking to school or to a friend’s house.
Driver Tips for Pedestrian Safety
Drivers also have a responsibility to be aware of pedestrians. After all, the driver is often at fault in pedestrian accidents.
If you frequently drive in school zones or in densely populated urban settings where pedestrians are plentiful, you have a duty to be extra cautious.
- Always be on the lookout for pedestrians, especially those who are crossing in front of you.
- Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning through a crosswalk.
- Follow speed limits, especially in school zones or other reduced speed areas.
- Be extra careful when backing out of a driveway or parking spot.
- Avoid drinking and driving.
- Always yield to pedestrians.
Whether you are walking or driving, exercise caution to avoid accidents. When an accident cannot be avoided or it isn’t your fault, you need to know that you have rights and legal options.