Pedestrian Accident Causes and Risk Factors
A large portion of American pedestrian accidents occur in Florida. Car collisions with pedestrians can be extremely deadly and when someone manages to survive a pedestrian accident they seldom walk away unscathed. Pedestrian accidents cause some of the most severe injuries due to a pedestrians vulnerable body being struck by the full mass of a vehicle. With city infrastructure such as crosswalks and sidewalks in place to protect pedestrians, one may wonder what exactly can contribute to a pedestrian accident occurring.
There are a few risk factors and causes of these pedestrian accidents that are much more common than others. Certain conditions can lead to pedestrians being put in danger and should be avoided if possible by those traveling by foot.
Pedestrian Accidents Typically Occur at Night
The most common times for pedestrian accidents to occur are at night when vehicles are much less likely to see pedestrians walking and don’t expect to see as many pedestrians walking about. Low light conditions from dusk to early morning make for a high pedestrian accident risk. Many pedestrians that walk at night do not take precautions to increase their visibility and sometimes end up wearing dark clothing that makes visibility even worse. Night time is also when the most activity with drivers and walker under the influence occurs.
Alcohol and Other Intoxicating Substances Contribute to Pedestrian Accidents
It was found that many pedestrians that have been involved in accidents where they were struck by vehicles were under the influence of intoxicating substances. The most common of these substances was alcohol yet a variety of other substances ranging from marijuana to cocaine have also been found in the systems of those hit by cars.
While drunk driving is a cause of many accidents and does cause drivers to be more likely to cause a pedestrian accident, intoxication caused accidents can be caused by the pedestrian side as well. The same impairing effects caused by alcohol that make driving dangerous also can cause pedestrians to be involved in accidents where they are struck by a vehicle. Effects such as poor judgment decreased perception, and impaired motor function all can lead a pedestrian to have more difficulty crossing a street properly, seeing oncoming cars, and making safe decisions to cross streets using designated crosswalks.
Pedestrian Accidents That Occur Away From Designated Crosswalks
A vast portion of pedestrian accidents take place away from designated crosswalks and other areas set aside for pedestrians to navigate the roads safely. When pedestrians jaywalk or walk along roads they put themselves at immense risk for a pedestrian accident. By jaywalking or otherwise crossing sections of road with no crosswalk, a pedestrian enters an environment where drivers are much less likely to expect let alone detect a pedestrian entering their driving space. The same can be said for walking along the sides of roads where there are no sidewalks or other designated pedestrian areas. These areas can be drifted into by cars and large vehicles can still blast pedestrians with the force of passing them by even if they do not make contact which is very dangerous.
Distractions While Walking Can Cause Pedestrian Accidents
A new cause of pedestrian accidents that has steadily been growing is the distraction caused by electronic devices; namely smartphones. Many people have found themselves walking on autopilot while they focus on checking social media and browsing the web on their smartphones only to find themselves wandering in the middle of the street with oncoming traffic threatening their safety. Smartphone distractions have already demonstrated that they can cause a large number of car accidents when drivers focus on texting instead of driving. Many pedestrians have found that this distraction can also prove to be quite deadly on foot as well.
Avoiding Pedestrian Accidents: For Drivers
How to avoid a pedestrian accident when you are the driver.
Slow Down in Pedestrian Areas
When you are in pedestrian heavy areas, like downtown, it is even more important to drive slowly. Taking it slow will give you extra time to react if a pedestrian steps into the roadway. In general, pedestrians can be unpredictable so driving slowly in high pedestrian areas can give you the extra time you need to respond to pedestrians in the road.
Everyone is such a big hurry these days, but it is important to be patient when someone is crossing the road. Treat the pedestrian the way you would want you and your family to be treated if you were crossing the road. It is particularly important to be patient with seniors, children, and those with disabilities as they cross the road. These groups of people may need a little extra time to make it across.
Look for Eye Contact
If you make it a point to make eye contact with a pedestrian, you can dramatically reduce the risk of a pedestrian accident. Making eye contact with a pedestrian lets both parties know that you see each other and that you will wait for them to cross.
Follow School Bus and School Crossing Rules
When you are behind a stopped school bus or any school zone there are special laws that you must follow. Always slow down in a school zone. The zones serve a purpose so going slow in them is not only the law but the best way to keep everyone safe. Likewise, schools buses pose a particular risk to children pedestrians. Always stop when you are behind a stopped school bus, never pass, and when you are in the opposite traffic stop, even if you think you don’t have to.
Don’t Pass the Car In Front of You without Looking
When the vehicle in front of you stops suddenly, it can be tempting to swerve around them and continue on your way. This could be a big mistake however since the car could be stopping for a pedestrian. If you pass a stopped car without properly looking, you could hit a pedestrian as they pass in front of the stop vehicle. Again, be patient.
Drive Slower on Wet Roads
In Florida in particular, it is extra important to drive slowly and carefully on wet roads since they greatly reduce your ability to stop. A wet road may be just the thing that causes you to hit a pedestrian even if you are being vigilant and patient.
Avoiding Pedestrian Accidents: For Pedestrians
Pedestrians can also take measures to ensure they are safe from traffic.
Always Cross in a Designated Crosswalk
When you were crossing a road, it is best to always cross in a designated crosswalk. Not only is a designated crosswalk designed to keep pedestrians safe, but it is also an indication to drivers that a pedestrian may be crossing there. Crossing the road without a crosswalk could leave you in danger of a driver not seeing you.
Don’t Assume a Driver Sees You
When you are crossing a road you should be vigilant of other vehicles, regardless of where you are crossing. Unfortunately not all drivers are paying attention. Since drivers are protected by the motor vehicle and the pedestrian is not, the safest thing to do is always assume the position of responsibility when you are the pedestrian.
Look Around Stopped Vehicles
If a vehicle stops so you can cross, do not assume that the other cars, either behind them or in the other lane, are going to stop too. When you get past the stopped car, look arounds the vehicle to see if any other cars are coming.
How can These Risk Factors Affect a Pedestrian Accident Claim?
When a pedestrian sustains a significant injury in an accident with a vehicle they can sometimes seek compensation for the damage they suffered through a pedestrian accident claim. By proving that a liable party’s negligence resulted in the injury they sustained they can make a case for receiving a settlement that can cover damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, disability, and more.
Negligence is a major factor in determining the probability of success with any personal injury claim. Florida is a contributory negligence policy state which means that someone’s level of compensation in a personal injury claim is dependant on how much they contributed to the accident that injured them.
If a plaintiff was hit while making their way across the street using a crosswalk and minding their own business and the driver was driving twice the speed limit while under the influence of alcohol then its a fairly clean cut case of negligence. On the other hand, a pedestrian can contribute negligence by engaging in behavior that is high risk to cause a pedestrian accident like jaywalking and being intoxicated.
If this is the case then the plaintiffs level of negligence contributed to an accident is reduced to a percentage. So if someone jaywalked they would have partially contributed negligence to the accident and it could be seen as a maybe 30-40% contribution. Even if their pedestrian accident claim was successful, the percentage of negligence they contributed to the accident would be deducted from their settlement.
Consider Eberst Law Firm for Your Slip and Fall Accident Claim
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident in the Stuart, Florida or Gainesville, Florida area, contact the experienced personal injury team at The Eberst Law Firm. We are ready to handle your case. Our skilled lawyers will be happy to speak with you about the details of your case and offer some options of what kind of legal action you can take. With representation from Eberst Law, you can be assured that you will have an experienced injury lawyer in your corner fighting to ensure you receive the compensation you need.
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