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Pedestrian Safety: Preventing Accidents

Pedestrian safety is a national concern, as thousands of pedestrians are injured every year in traffic accidents. The injuries associated with pedestrian accidents can be very serious, as they usually involve a motor vehicle colliding with a person.

These accidents can happen when drivers are not careful in a variety of situations, such as:

  • Failing to yield for pedestrians in crosswalks
  • Backing out of parking spaces in parking lots
  • Speeding in residential areas where there are children playing
  • Turning right on a red light, and not looking for pedestrians in the crosswalk

“Pedestrian accidents can result in injuries such as fractures that require surgical repair, head injuries, back and neck injuries, and in some cases death!”  

– David Slepkow, Slepkow Slepkow & Associates, Inc.

. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that a pedestrian is injured in an accident every 8 minutes in the United States, and that there is a pedestrian fatality every 113 minutes. In 2007, 4,654 pedestrians were killed and around 70,000 were injured. 171 of those fatalities were here in the State of Illinois, and 49 pedestrian fatalities were in Chicago. Furthermore, it was recently reported by the Illinois Department of Transportation that in 2008 there was a dramatic increase in pedestrian deaths in Chicago, rising to 56 in 2008.

Additionally, the CDC reports that the following groups are at the highest risk of a pedestrian accident:

  • Children: In 2008, one in every five children between the ages of 5 and 9 who were killed in traffic crashes was a pedestrian.
  • Older adults: Pedestrians ages 65 and older accounted for 18% of all pedestrian deaths and an estimated 10% of all pedestrians injured in 2008.
  • Drivers and pedestrians who are alcohol-impaired: Alcohol-impairment was reported in 48% of the traffic crashes that resulted in pedestrian death. Of the pedestrians involved, 36 % had a blood alcohol concentration above the illegal limit.

Pedestrian safety can be greatly increased by remembering to do a few simple things when walking:

  • Always cross the street at a designated crosswalk, and only cross when there is a red light for vehicles.
  • Exercise caution at intersections, as many drivers may not use their turn signal and often fail to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians while turning onto another street.
  • Wear bright colors and reflective clothing at night, and carry a flashlight to increase your visibility at night.
  • Walking on a sidewalk is the safest way to travel by foot, but if you must walk in the street, face traffic so that you can see approaching vehicles.
  • Be predictable so that vehicles and cyclists stand less of a chance of being taken by surprise by your movements.
  • Stay away from freeways and other restricted zones.
  • Stay home if you’ve been consuming alcohol and/or drugs, as they can impair your ability to walk safely. See above for impaired pedestrian accident statistics.
  • Staying alert is a key to pedestrian safety. You must not count on drivers paying attention. Making eye contact is a good way to ensure that a driver has seen you.
  • If walking near railroad tracks, be alert. Understand that it can take a mile or further for a train to stop, so even if a locomotive engineer sees someone on the tracks a good distance ahead, they will likely be unable to stop in time.

Pedestrian safety tips are important to follow to avoid accidents, injuries and even death. If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, request a Free Case Consultation today.

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