When drivers fail to obey the rules of the road, pedestrians can get hurt in catastrophic, life-threatening ways. Whether you are a driver or pedestrian, knowing the 10 top reasons why pedestrian accidents occur can help you to prevent them from happening.
1. Being Distracted
Drivers using their cell phones, fiddling with the radio, or even eating, are diverting their attention away from the road. Missing a crosswalk, stop sign, or veering too close to the side of the road due to negligence puts pedestrians at great risk. Driving distracted is illegal and should be avoided; just because you are in a neighborhood or on a side street away from traffic does not mean it is a good time to return a quick text.
Furthermore, if you are a pedestrian crossing the street while using a digital device, it takes attention away from your surroundings and puts you at risk to be involved in an accident. While walking, be alert to what is going on in your surroundings.
Going even 10km above the speed limit reduces the driver’s reaction time to stop for a pedestrian. In a neighborhood, you should never drive above 30km/h, as this is where there are more children at play, walkers, runners, and bikers that may not be expecting cars. Speeding is reckless driving, and significantly increases the severity of injuries.
3. Failing to Stop
Rolling through a stop sign, or not slowing at a crosswalk are common causes of pedestrian accidents. Pedestrians have the right of way, so when they believe the vehicle will stop, or yield, and they fail to do so, collisions happen, usually resulting in serious injury. Drivers should always take extra precautions at stop signs and crosswalks to scan for pedestrians. Pedestrians should never assume that drivers will stop for them and should always err on the side of precaution.
4. Weather Conditions
Bad weather can negatively affect road conditions, making it difficult for drivers to stop in time for pedestrian crossing. Wet roads can prevent accurate breaking leading to cars accidentally running stop signs, or red lights. If road conditions are not great, give yourself extra time to break to prevent sliding through a crosswalk. Likewise, if you are a pedestrian crossing a slippery street, pay extra attention to the cars around you so you have time to get out of the way if need be.
5. Wearing Dark Clothes at Night
As a pedestrian, wearing dark clothes at night can be dangerous. Go for brighter clothes that will easily be seen under street lights, and even reflective jackets or armbands to be extra cautious. At night, some drivers are not paying attention to occupied crosswalks, especially if the pedestrian blends into the night. If you find yourself in a situation with dark clothing, use the flashlight on your phone at a crosswalk which greatly increases your chances of a driver seeing you in time to stop. As a driver, never assume pedestrians are not out, regardless of the time of night.
6. Backing Up Accidents
A staggering number of pedestrian accidents are from motorists backing out of parking spaces and driveways, not expecting a pedestrian to be behind them. Similarly, pedestrians walk behind cars they believe to be parked and off. As a driver, thoroughly check your surroundings and blind spots for pedestrians, especially small children. Pedestrians should keep a safe distance from the cars in a parking lot and should always keep an eye out. While walking on sidewalks, always glance to make sure a car is not backing out of the driveway.
7. Left-Hand Turns
Left-hand turns are one of the biggest factors in pedestrian accidents. The reason for this is that drivers have a green light to turn left when oncoming traffic subsides, but pedestrians simultaneously have a walk light. Drivers are focused on the green light, and yielding to oncoming traffic, and not expecting a person to be crossing their path. This is 100% the driver’s fault, but it is the pedestrian that suffers most injuries. As a motorist, always be scanning intersections for pedestrians, and do not fail to recall the crosswalks while turning. As a pedestrian, always be scanning and ready to act defensively. Never walk distracted, especially at an intersection where the chances of an accident increase drastically.
8. Impatient Drivers
Impatient drivers are drivers who speed, weave through traffic, speed up to yellow lights, run reds, and fail to yield. Having this sort of reckless driving on roads is extremely dangerous to motorists and pedestrians alike. These sorts of drivers are the most probable to strike a pedestrian. As a pedestrian, being attentive and keeping a lookout for negligent drivers will be your safest bet, regardless of whether you have the right of way.
9. Road Construction
Road construction can turn familiar, easy-to-navigate roads, into confusing obstacle courses that do not remotely resemble what they used to be. Drivers can become confused and focused on navigating through cones, instead of scanning the roads for pedestrians. As well, sidewalks are usually blocked off, and walkers may be forced to walk where motorists are not expecting them. This combination can lead to collisions. Pedestrians should keep off to the side as much as possible and make themselves seen to the drivers. As well, motorists should always stick to the posted construction zone speed limit, taking extra precautions to look for pedestrians and workers that may be in their path.
10. Impaired Driving
Drugs, alcohol, and certain medications decrease alertness, and reaction time, both crucial to driving safety. Disorientation, drowsiness, distractions, and substances should all be kept off the roads to avoid endangering the lives of other motorists, and pedestrians who are unprotected and vulnerable to serious, life-threatening injuries. Driving impaired is against the law, and a serious threat to everyone on the road.
Cantini Law Group has over 30 years’ experience advocating for Atlantic Canadians who have suffered injuries following a motor vehicle accident. For more articles and safety tips, go to https://cantiniinjurylaw.ca/blog/ or subscribe to our newsletter.