6 Risk Factors for Pedestrian Accidents

It’s been a long, cold, lonely winter in the Salt Lake City area—temperatures have plummeted to near-record lows, snow has congested every shoulder, and the streets have shimmered with ice.  Happily, spring is on the way at last!  Here comes the sun, new greenery, and a multitude of birds and insects.  So, too, will come pedestrians:  parents with strollers, joggers with cabin fever, and anyone glad just to grab a whiff of fresh air without risking a brain freeze.  As the temperature rises and the snow melts away, more and more people can be expected to venture outside.

Among other things, this means that drivers will have more to watch out for and that long-confined individuals now opting to walk will face a new set of challenges as they brave the outdoors once more.  While every pedestrian can all but guarantee their own safety simply by following traffic laws and basic roadway etiquette, there will always be potentially perilous circumstances existing outside of their sphere of influence.  No pedestrian can control the actions of others or the lighting at a given time.  What they can do is read on for a list of the primary contributors to pedestrian accidents.

1. Alcohol consumption

Even when it doesn’t result in golden slumbers on the way back home, a bellyfull of wine (or any hard drink) gets in the way of responsible driving.  In 47% of fatal pedestrian accidents in 2010, at least one party involved was legally intoxicated.  While it may be reflexive to blame drunk drivers for these deaths, 33% of them occurred because of a pedestrian who was over the limit.  Thus, pedestrians, too, should be mindful of the amount of alcohol they consume before travel.

2. Age

Senior citizens (which here means those 65 or older) face a dramatically higher risk for pedestrian accidents.  Every year, more than half a million of the nation’s elderly receive emergency medical treatment for non-fatal injuries, and about 800 more die in pedestrian accidents.  In 92.5% of pedestrian accidents involving seniors, the person struck had fallen  before the car’s approach.

Children, too, are disproportionately vulnerable to the dangers of the road:  In 2010, 131 children were lost and 9,000 were injured among those younger than 15.

In the case of senior citizens, provisions against falls (many of which result from a trip at the curb) are the best precaution, whether those provisions take the form of shoes, walkers, or glasses; whereas children should be taught from a young age the dangers of the road and closely watched until they are old enough to conduct themselves safely.

3. Place

Because the world is round, pedestrians cannot simply be spotted from all sides.  In areas dotted with many view-obstructing buildings, they are even harder to detect:  73% of fatal pedestrian accidents in 2010 took place in urban areas.    An obstructed view, however, is not the only contributing factor to pedestrian fatalities—there is also great danger in turning up in places where you are not expected, as evidenced by the fact that nearly 80% of them happened away from intersections, where one might imagine most accidents to occur.  The pedestrian who wants to make the end of their journey unscathed should never take for granted that they have been seen, especially when they are crossing in a no-crossing zone.

4. Time

Not surprisingly, the greatest number of pedestrian accidents take place at nighttime, when eyelids are so heavy they require a forklift. 68 percent occur at night; and 30% happen between 8 p.m. and midnight.  The weekend is particularly treacherous, with 16% of pedestrian fatalities transpiring on Friday, 17% on Saturday, and 15% on Sunday.  The most dangerous days of the year for pedestrians are New Year’s Day and Halloween.  To promote visibility during these hours, commuters on foot should wear bright clothing or even carry a flashlight, as occasion requires.

5. Weather

In hazy conditions such as the Salt Lake City area has experienced recently, a pedestrian’s got to be good-looking ’cause they’re so hard to see.  However, even being dressed to the hilt is no guarantee of safety when it rains so hard that windshield wipers can’t keep up.

On the other hand, even fair weather is no guarantee of smooth sailing.  In fact, 88% of fatal pedestrian accidents take place on clear days.  Thus, the pedestrian’s consistent vigilance is the ticket to knowing they’re happy and they’re safe.

6. Speed

When a motor vehicle comes grooving up slowly, you have time to either announce your presence or leap for cover.  By contrast, a speeding vehicle is much harder to avoid, assuming you have any prior notice at all.  The higher the speed of a vehicle, the greater the likelihood of an accident and the more serious the potential injury.  All you have to do is think of it, and a car can appear out of nowhere.  Interestingly enough, though, while a speeding car makes accident and injury more likely, most fatal pedestrian accidents are not the result of speed limit violations.  The takeaway lesson is that disaster can strike at any speed.

Chances are, you don’t have a ten bob note set aside for when the expenses associated with a pedestrian accident come down like Maxwell’s silver hammer.  More probably, you think you’ll never make it alone in the event of a sudden financial burden of that magnitude.  Unfortunately, this is a common feeling among accident victims, even those who are insured.  When you’re seeking out medical care, scrambling to hold your life together, Sunday’s on the phone to Monday, etc., there’s a good chance that the payment you take will not equal the preparations you make.

For predicaments like these, there is always the option of retaining a personal injury attorney like those hailing from Christensen & Hymas in Draper.  When you’ve come to the point where you can no longer carry that weight, Christensen & Hymas are there to see that you never walk alone.  Until you have been compensated for your injury, these outstanding lawyers will lend guidance, bargain with insurance companies or others implicated, and won’t break down in the middle of negotiations.  Even if you’re still in the process of deciding what to do next, Christensen & Hymas can offer legal advice free of charge.

To make your troubles known and consult with experienced attorneys, call (801) 506-0800.


Image courtesy: Charlotte Gilhooly


Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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