Most pedestrian accidents happen in the blink of an eye – and usually have devastating consequences. The majority of these accidents involve a vehicle hitting a person walking on the street or sidewalk. While many are caused by driver error, some are attributed to pedestrian negligence.
As a pedestrian accident injury firm in Wisconsin, we see both sides of the coin.
Whether you’re a motorist or a pedestrian, it’s important to understand the risk of the roadways. In this post, we want to discuss the six most common causes of pedestrian accidents we see, the significance of safety on the road, and how to be more cautious to reduce pedestrian accidents.
Without further ado, let’s get going.
Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of pedestrian accidents, and victims commonly suffer catastrophic injuries. Data from 2021 indicates that there were over 3,500 pedestrian fatalities due to inattentive drivers.
We, unfortunately, live in a time with many different distractions on the road – including texting, making phone calls, using a GPS, eating, adjusting the radio, and more. When drivers are not 100% focused on the road, they may fail to notice pedestrians walking or crossing an intersection. The risk is even higher at nighttime.
A lack of attention behind the wheel can easily lead to delayed reaction times – or even a complete failure to react to certain situations, like the sudden appearance of a pedestrian.
Additionally, the actions of a distracted driver may cause other drivers to swerve out of their lanes or fail to adhere to traffic signals, which may create other accidents involving pedestrians. Drivers have a “duty of care” to keep other people safe on the road. This starts with being attentive to the surroundings.
Failure to yield the right of way is another one of the leading causes of pedestrian accidents.
In most cases, pedestrians get the right of way to vehicles. This is most common at crosswalks and intersections – even if they are unmarked.
Unfortunately, drivers neglect this rule all the time. These traffic crashes are often attributed to distractions, impatience, or simply a lack of understanding of the law.
Moreover, drivers making turns at intersections are usually required to yield to pedestrians – especially if the “walk” sign is on. Failure to do this can easily result in severe accidents – and sometimes pedestrian fatalities. A general rule for drivers: if you’re not sure whether you or the pedestrian has the right of way, always give it to the pedestrian.
Reckless driving – which includes speeding – is a huge contributor to pedestrian accidents. This type of behavior on the road makes it difficult to stop or safely maneuver in unexpected situations. For example, if a pedestrian crosses an uncontrolled intersection, driving at a high speed would significantly increase the risk of an accident.
Reckless behaviors also include running red lights, ignoring stop signs, making illegal turns, and so on – all of which may result in collisions with pedestrians crossing the road legally.
Pedestrian accidents caused by speeding or reckless driving are usually more severe, owing to a higher impact. These commonly result in serious pedestrian injuries or wrongful deaths. In many pedestrian accidents involving reckless driving, the victims will seek punitive damages against the driver.
Drivers: Do your best to obey speed limits and follow the rules of the road. Driving with high emotions significantly increases the risk of motor vehicle accidents. Causing serious injuries – or pedestrian deaths – while driving recklessly can lead to lifelong consequences, both for you and the
On average, alcohol impairment is a factor in more than 40% of pedestrian fatalities.
Pedestrian accidents caused by impaired driving are another situation that tends to warrant punitive damages. Driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs severely impacts the driver’s decision-making, reaction times, coordination, and cognition on the road. It may also affect the driver’s ability to properly gauge distance.
For instance, if a pedestrian is walking at night in a poorly lit area wearing dark clothing, they may be more difficult to see. While a sober driver would likely be able to react appropriately to the situation, an impaired driver may lack the cognition to spot the pedestrian and maneuver around them in time.
Drivers: Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol can quickly become a life-or-death situation. The courts show zero lenience to impaired drivers, especially if there’s an accident or pedestrian deaths occur. This is a price you’ll likely pay for the rest of your life – and may even result in jail or prison time.
Pedestrians: Most impaired driving accidents happen at night. If you are walking after dark, always wear bright or reflective clothing.
Not all causes of pedestrian accidents are due to negligent drivers. While pedestrians generally have the right of way, they are sometimes at fault in accidents.
For example, if a pedestrian fails to use the designated crosswalk, crosses highways, walks into oncoming traffic, or enters a crosswalk on a red light, they are putting themselves at risk of an accident.
In these situations, drivers may not have enough time to react – especially if there are bad weather conditions or poor lighting. We’ve also seen pedestrian accident cases caused by distracted walking or being under the influence of drugs/alcohol – as well as failing to comply with Wisconsin traffic laws. Pedestrians: You are not exempt from following the rules of the road. Always be alert when you’re walking in high-traffic areas, especially if you’re walking at night.
The causes of pedestrian accidents are not always attributed to drivers and walkers.
Municipalities are expected to provide a safe infrastructure – but this isn’t always the case.
Dim lighting, poorly-maintained roads, and inadequate signage can make it difficult for drivers and pedestrians to navigate the roadways.
Additionally, issues such as a lack of sidewalks or crosswalks, poorly timed crosswalk signals, or a lack of pedestrian safety features in high-traffic areas increase the likelihood of accidents. Without proper infrastructure, pedestrians are commonly forced to share the road with vehicles or cross at risky intersections.
Accidents caused by poor infrastructure highlight the importance of proper urban planning and road design for pedestrian safety.
Pedestrians: Filing a pedestrian accident claim against a municipality is no easy process. You’ll need to hire a skilled attorney to hold city officials accountable for inadequate infrastructure.
Pedestrian accidents occur for many different reasons. Some causes of pedestrian accidents are unavoidable. However, there are many ways pedestrians can stay safe while out and about:
Do your best to stick to sidewalks where they are available. If there is no sidewalk, do your best to face traffic as far to the left as possible to spot oncoming risks.
This is a no-brainer. Only cross streets at crosswalks or intersections in high-traffic areas.
When walking in busy areas, stay off your phone and be attentive to drivers around you.
If you’re walking at night, always wear brightly colored/reflective clothing.
When you’re crossing an intersection, do your best to make eye contact with the driver before entering the roadway.
Alcohol and drugs may impair your judgment and reaction skills as a pedestrian, just as they do for drivers.
These areas sometimes have blind corners – especially alleyways. Drivers may have limited visibility.
The effects of pedestrian accidents can stick with both victims and at-fault parties for a lifetime – and it’s crucial to take active steps to avoid these devastating incidents. Being aware of the common causes of pedestrian accidents is just the first step in keeping others safe on the road.
At Mahony Law, we provide legal counsel to victims of pedestrian accidents – and fight fiercely for fair compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, reduced quality of life, and more. Our firm offers FREE consultations to understand each victim’s situation and determine the path to seeking justice.
Our service model operates on a contingency fee agreement. This means you pay nothing out of pocket to hire us. We take our fees in the form of a percentage of the total pedestrian accident settlement AFTER we win the case. Start the conversation today by calling 262-331-3553, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill out an online form to get started.
Abby is the founder of Mahony Law and devotes her time to representing people who have been seriously hurt due to the negligence of others. Abby has handled injury cases of all types, including birth injury, wrongful death, automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and truck accidents.
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