Pedestrian accidents have become a growing problem in recent years. Each year, thousands of pedestrians are killed on U.S. roadways, and projections from the Governors Highway Association (GHA) indicate that 2018 had the highest number of pedestrian fatalities (6,227) since 1990.
In Virginia alone, 123 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in 2018, which was a record high. But according to an NBC 12 Richmond report from earlier this year, pedestrian deaths in 2019 are on pace to break that record.
There are several factors that may be contributing to the sharp rise in pedestrian fatalities. One of the major contributors is the increase in the number of pedestrians. People are far more health conscious than ever before, and walking is known to be one of the best forms of exercise. In addition, the number of Americans who walk to work has increased by 4% over the past decade.
Another factor that is thought to be making things more dangerous for pedestrians is the growing use of smartphones by both drivers and pedestrians. Texting while driving and similar forms of electronic activity while behind the wheel are becoming major hazards that contribute to more and more auto accidents.
Fall can be a dangerous time of the year for pedestrians for a number of reasons. There are more young pedestrians on the road walking to the bus stop or walking to their school. And with the days getting shorter, there is an increased risk of drivers being blinded by sun glare on their way to and from work, causing them not to see pedestrians. As we get into the holiday season, we will also see more walking traffic at the malls, shops, and restaurants.
Tips for Avoiding Pedestrian Accidents
We are all pedestrians at some point, and it is incumbent upon every one of us to do our part to help curb the alarmingly high number of pedestrian accidents that are happening on our roadways.
Tips for Drivers
- Drive at a Safe Speed: Slow down and drive safely when you are in pedestrian areas, especially school zones and downtown areas where there are a lot of people walking. Along the same lines, be patient with people who need extra time to cross the street, particularly those who are elderly and disabled.
- Keep your Windshield Clean and Set your Mirrors Properly: Make sure you do not have anything hindering your ability to see pedestrians. This means keeping your windshield clean and free of dirt and debris and setting your mirrors in the right position to maximize your view.
- Avoid Looking at your Phone: In Virginia, texting while driving not only illegal, it is a primary offense. This means you can be pulled over for this behavior even if there is no other traffic violation occurring. Wherever you drive, avoid looking down at your phone. Even just a few seconds looking away from the road can result in tragic consequences. It is not worth it – the text can wait until later, and if it can’t, find a place to safely pull over and stop before sending it.
Tips for Pedestrians
- Cross in Designated Crossing Areas: Whenever possible, use a crosswalk or designated area to cross the street. If there is a stoplight, wait for the pedestrian symbol to turn green, then proceed across the street cautiously.
- Stay on Sidewalks when Possible: Always use a sidewalk if there is one available. It might be that there is only a sidewalk on one side of the street. If this is the case, use the sidewalk even if it means going the opposite direction of the traffic. If there are no sidewalks available, always walk the same direction as the traffic.
- Try to Make Eye Contact with Motorists: Although it is not always possible, try to make eye contact with drivers when you are crossing the street in front of them. When you and the driver are able to acknowledge each other, this helps both drivers and pedestrians avoid any confusion about whose turn it is to go.
- Avoid Distractions: Distractions are a big problem for both drivers and pedestrians. When you are walking in a high-traffic area where there are a lot of vehicles, you should do everything you can to reduce distractions such as texting on your phone, watching videos, and taking selfies.
Injured in a Pedestrian Accident in Virginia? Speak with an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
Despite your best efforts to avoid an accident, you cannot control the actions of others. If you or someone close to has suffered injury in a pedestrian accident that was the fault of another party, you need strong legal counsel in your corner advocating forcefully for your rights and interests.
If the accident occurred in Virginia, call Schilling and Esposito today at 804-320-0950 to schedule a free consultation and case assessment. You may also message us through our web contact form or stop by one of our Richmond offices in person at your convenience.