Why are Car Accidents with Pedestrians Growing?

In the last couple of years car accidents involving pedestrians have steadily increased. A report by the National Public Radio (NPR) released in 2017, stated that pedestrian fatalities had increased by over 11 percent in a single year, putting the number of fatalities to nearly 6,000 deaths. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated 5,376 pedestrians were killed in 2015 and 4,884 pedestrians were killed in 2014. Based on those numbers, NHTSA estimates that on average, a pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every seven minutes in traffic crashes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to be killed in a car accident.

The CDC states that high vehicle speeds increase both the likelihood of a pedestrian being struck by a car and the severity of the pedestrian’s injury. In NPR’s report, the deputy executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance, interviewed by NPR, stated that, “If a pedestrian is struck at 20 miles an hour, they have a 10 percent chance of dying. If they are struck at 40 miles an hour, they have an 80 percent chance of dying.”

NHTSA, in statistics it released in 2013, stated that most car accidents involving pedestrians occur in urban areas, at non-intersections, and in the dark. In the study, NHTSA determined the average age for pedestrians killed in car accidents to be 46 and the average age of pedestrians injured in car accidents to be 36.

NPR lists a number of factors as to why car accidents with pedestrians are growing. NPR points out that the recent strong economy and low gas prices has led to an increase of vehicles on the road, thus increasing the chances for car accidents overall. NPR also points to distractions from cell phones, for both pedestrians and drivers, as a reason why car accidents with pedestrians are increasing. For more information about cell phone distractions while driving, visit our previous blogs HERE and HERE.

A recent study cited by NHTSA found that pedestrians at crosswalks were less likely to look both ways before crossing if they were texting, listening to music (with headphones on), talking to others, or engaged in other activities. However, in that same study, researchers found that a pedestrian talking on a cell phone was not less likely to look both ways before crossing. Of all of the pedestrians studied, only 26 percent displayed “optimal” behavior when crossing at crosswalks.

Section 5/11-1002 of the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code outlines the duty of vehicles to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. 625 ILCS 5/11-1002. Under the Code, drivers of vehicles must yield to pedestrians who are within a plainly marked crosswalk between an intersection. A driver who is not paying attention can easily strike a pedestrian who is lawfully crossing in a crosswalk and cause serious and painful injuries to that pedestrian. However, the Code also outlines when a pedestrian has a duty to yield to a vehicle. Under the Code, a pedestrian must yield to a vehicle when crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. 625 ILCS 5/11-1003.

To reduce car accidents involving pedestrians, drivers should be constantly aware of pedestrians, especially when approaching intersections, and should decrease driver distractions, like texting or talking on a cell phone, as much as possible. Pedestrians should wear bright-colored clothing at night, should look both ways before crossing, should cross at a marked crosswalk, and should decrease distractions, such as texting.

Being struck with a vehicle as a pedestrian can be dangerous and scary. Injuries and the costs of treating those injuries can easily add up. If you or a loved one has been injured as a pedestrian, contact the Naperville car accident lawyers at the law firm of John J. Malm & Associates to learn more about how you may be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries.