7 Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents and How to Avoid Them


Statistics taken by the Utah Department of Health reveal that there are about 1,170 pedestrian accidents in Utah each year.  Of these, nearly 4% are lethal—in other words, about 45 pedestrians perish each year following contact with a car.  While these accidents have been on a steady decline since the ‘90s, these [mostly easily preventable] numbers represent profound problems in the interaction between motorists and pedestrians and demand that the public take stricter safety measures to avoid the many injuries and deaths that occur annually as a result of general inconsideration or thoughtlessness.

In most cases, the answer for the drivers is inherently obvious—obey traffic laws, watch where you’re going, and don’t drive too fast.  For pedestrians, the solutions require more than standard vigilance.  For the benefit of those wishing to walk more safely, the most common causes of pedestrian accidents have been listed below:

1.      Disobedience to traffic signals

It is a sad truth that many pedestrian accidents occur when the driver of a motor vehicle runs through a red light or over a crosswalk without pausing to verify that they aren’t violating the spirit of the traffic law they are violating.  Unfortunately, pedestrians cannot depend on your own adherence of the law to keep them safe—they must be ever watchful of rogue motor vehicles or bicyclists, or they stand a chance of being blindsided by a barreling scofflaw at high speed.

 2.      Failure to yield the right of way

Even at unmarked crosswalks, drivers are bound to yield the right of way to pedestrians; and those drivers who DON’T yield the right of way are guilty of an infraction that could get them into legal trouble if they cause an injury.  Nevertheless, pedestrians should never take their own safety for granted when an infraction could end in serious injury or worse.  To ascertain that the crossing will be clear, see that the driver is slowing down, make eye contact, and be sure they know you’re about to advance across their path.

 3.      Pulling out without looking out

For whatever reason, there is a certain percentage of the population that pulls out of parking spaces before making sure they aren’t about to hit something or mow someone down.  To be safe from the blunderings of such drivers, walk—don’t run!—through parking lots, communicate with the driver whenever possible, and never assume that a backing-out car will stop or slow down if you’re not sure they’ve seen you.

 4.      Making a sudden right turn

It’s natural that a motorist would want to slip into a right turn when the coast is clear; but there’s a reason why drivers’ education teachers preach coming to a complete or near stop before executing a turn:  limited visibility.  Vegetation or structures on corners may prevent a driver from seeing a pedestrian that isn’t on their windshield; pedestrians wishing to keep their feet on firm ground should look beside and behind them, as well as both ways.

 5.      Leaving insufficient room on narrow roads

Where there is a rough shoulder, there will be pedestrians on the road.  This is a burden upon drivers, but it is a burden they must bear.  However, pedestrians can make this easier by walking against traffic on rough roads.

 6.      Driver distraction

Driver distraction is estimated to cause nearly 20% of all traffic accidents.  These distractions may be passengers, comestibles, technological devices, or something else on the road.  It is therefore important to pay attention to what drivers are doing so that a distracted driver may be avoided.

 7.      Driver intoxication

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Safety Facts, 13% of drivers involved in pedestrian accidents in 2009 were legally intoxicated.  However, 19.5% of pedestrians in pedestrian accidents were legally intoxicated; and in 6% of pedestrian accidents, both the driver and the pedestrian were.  The lesson is obvious:  You shouldn’t drive drunk; and you shouldn’t walk drunk.

The consequences of a pedestrian accident can be disastrous; and the victim of such an accident should feel they are on their own.  When standards measures for seeking compensation fail or come up short, pedestrian accident attorneys like Christensen & Hymas can help pull some strings.  For more information, call (801) 506-0800.

Image Courtesy of Jimtography

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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