Pedestrian Safety and Personal Injury

The number of pedestrians killed on U.S. roads last year was the highest in 28 years.  The numbers for 2018 represent a 4 percent hike from 2017 and a 35 percent hike since 2008.   Alcohol impairment—for the driver and/or the pedestrian—was reported in about half of the traffic crashes that resulted in pedestrian fatalities in 2017.   32 percent of fatal pedestrian encounters involved a pedestrian with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08 grams per deciliter or higher; 17 percent of drivers in pedestrian fatalities had a BAC of 0.08 or greater.  While drug testing in fatal accidents is less consistent nationwide, an estimated 18 percent of pedestrian fatalities involved a pedestrian with some drug involvement.  The most common drug tested was methamphetamine.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has published tips for pedestrians and drivers to interact more safely:

10 Walking Safety Tips

  1. Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
  2. Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available.
  3. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
  4. Keep alert at all times; don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road.
  5. Whenever possible, cross streets at crosswalks or intersections, where drivers expect pedestrians.  Look for cars in all directions, including those turning left or right.
  6. If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross safely; continue watching for traffic as you cross.
  7. Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach to make sure you are seen.
  8. Be visible at all times.  Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.
  9. Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways, or backing up in parking lots.
  10. Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your abilities and your judgment.

9 Driving Safety Tips

  1. Look out for pedestrians everywhere, at all times.  Safety is a shared responsibility.
  2. Use extra caution when driving in hard-to-see conditions, such as nighttime or bad weather.
  3. Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk.
  4. Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and stop well back from the crosswalk to give other vehicles an opportunity to see the crossing pedestrians so they can stop too.
  5. Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. There may be people crossing that you can’t see.
  6. Never drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
  7. Follow the speed limit, especially around people on the street.
  8. Follow slower speed limits in school zones and in neighborhoods where children are present.
  9. Be extra cautious when backing up—pedestrians can move into your path.

What are the legal issues when a pedestrian is hurt in a traffic collision?

While many people assume that a pedestrian always has the right of way while walking on the roadways, the reality is that pedestrians have a duty to exercise ordinary care for their own safety while using the roadways.  Failure to exercise ordinary care can result in a finding of contributory negligence—meaning that the pedestrian cannot recover because she was at fault, regardless of the fault of the driver.  Some principles to keep in mind:

These rules are designed to create a balance between the rights of pedestrians and motorists on our roadways.  If you or someone you know has been injured while a pedestrian, be sure to call a lawyer who can evaluate the rules and advise you whether you have the right to fair compensation for your injuries.