Pedestrians in the United States face an extremely heightened risk of serious injury or death when crossing or walking on city streets and roads. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that over the course of one recent year, 4,743 pedestrians lost their lives and another 76,000 sustained injury in vehicle-related accidents in the U.S. This is an average of one pedestrian fatality every two hours, while one pedestrian is injured on average every seven minutes.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), pedestrians are most at risk of suffering fatal injuries in urban environments. That’s where three out of four, or 73 percent, of pedestrian deaths occur. Fatal pedestrian accidents are more likely to occur at non-intersections, where speeds may be higher, and during the evening hours, when visibility is poor. Alcohol is often a contributing factor and played a role in 48 percent of the accidents in which a pedestrian was killed.
As everyone is a pedestrian at some point in their lives, it is important for you and your family members know what driver mistakes are most likely to cause an impact with a pedestrian. That knowledge could help you avoid becoming a statistic in a pedestrian accident.
Driver Mistakes Contributing to Pedestrian Crashes
Driver negligence and errors are one of the main reasons pedestrians are injured or die when hit by a car, truck, motorcycle – or even a bicycle. Pedestrians may themselves the victim of a serious or fatal accident if a driver exhibits any of this conduct:
- Aggressive driving or road rage;
- Driving while alcohol-impaired;
- Failing to back up safely;
- Using a hand-held or hands-free cell phone while driving;
- Sending or reading texts while driving;
- Becoming distracted or inattentive by in-vehicle or out-of-vehicle distractions;
- Driving without the proper experience for the conditions;
- Driving under the influence of drugs, either prescription, OTC or illegal;
- Eating or drinking while driving;
- Failure to yield the right-of-way;
- Driving while drowsy or fatigued;
- Following too close to the vehicle ahead (tailgating);
- Disregarding traffic signals and controls;
- Making improper turns;
- Unsafe lane changing; and
- Improper passing or lane usage.
Tips Pedestrians Can Use to Stay Safe
Although your risk of serious or fatal injury in a vehicle-related accident is significantly greater as a pedestrian, you can be proactive to help to keep you and those you love safe when walking along city streets, roads and highways in Gates County, Dare County, Currituck County and throughout Eastern North Carolina, including the beach roads of the Outer Banks. The following tips may help you avoid injury or death while a pedestrian:
- Cross the street at designated crosswalks or signaled intersections whenever possible.
- When walking along the side of a road, always walk on the sidewalk. If no sidewalk exists, walk along the shoulder of the road facing traffic.
- Before crossing the street, always make eye contact with drivers in approaching vehicles to be sure they see you and are coming to a stop. Never assume you will be seen.
- If you plan on walking at night, wear light or reflective clothing and carry a flashlight.
- Do not walk while texting, talking on your cell phone, listening to music or engaging in any other distracting behavior that could inhibit your ability to be alert to circumstances around you.
- Just as you should never drink and drive, you should not drink and walk either. NHTSA statistics reveal that approximately 37 percent of pedestrians killed in vehicle-related accidents in one year’s time had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher.