The Walking Dead: Traffic and Pedestrian Injuries
- Pedestrian deaths represent 14% of all fatalities involving vehicles. In fact, pedestrians represent the second highest group of vehicle accident deaths, with occupant deaths holding the dubious top spot.
- A pedestrian is hurt, on average, in a collision every 8 minutes, translating to approximately 69,000 Americans every year. Injuries can range from broken bones to concussions to spinal cord injuries and even quadriplegia.
- A pedestrian is killed, on average, in a collision every two hours on American roads, translating to almost 5,000 deaths every year in 2011.
Accidents in Urban Areas
In general, the rate of pedestrian deaths tends to be higher in urban areas than in rural areas due to the greater volume of both cars and pedestrians attempting to access some of the sections of the roads. More specifically, according to the National Safety Council, over 70% of all pedestrian deaths in 2005 took place in urban areas.
Pedestrians Accidents at Intersections
Although a large number of pedestrian-vehicle collisions occur at intersections, most occur at places other than intersections because of cars traveling at higher speeds and the fact that drivers are not expecting to have to stop. For example, more than 40% of pedestrian fatalities in 2002 took place in locations that did not have crosswalks, while 65% of pedestrian injuries happened at locations without intersections.
When Do Pedestrian Fatalities Occur?
Weekends may be a time for fun, but not quite so if you are a pedestrian. Did you know that most collisions involving pedestrians take place on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in the later evening?
About 45 percent of the pedestrian deaths in 2005 took place between 6 pm and midnight. As for the actual day, 17% of fatalities happened on a Friday, 18% on a Saturday, and 14% on a Sunday.
The Walking Dead
Which groups of pedestrians tend to be more vulnerable to vehicle collisions? The elderly and younger children are more at risk than other groups. In particular, children under the age of 16 are most likely to be hit by a vehicle, accounting for almost 20% of all traffic-related deaths in 2003.
Although they are less likely to be hit by a car, the elderly are more likely to succumb to their injuries. They account for 16% of all pedestrian fatalities and 6% of traffic-related injuries.
Causes of Pedestrian Fatalities
A major contributing factor in all vehicle accidents, and especially when a pedestrian is involved, is the speed of the car at the time of impact. When driving at higher speeds, a motorist is less likely to see a pedestrian, and therefore even less likely to react in sufficient time to avoid hitting that person. To put it in statistical terms, a pedestrian has an 85% of dying when hit by a car traveling at 40 mph.
In addition to speed, inattention by both drivers and pedestrians to their surrounding is another significant contributing factor to pedestrian injury and death involving a car. Distracted driving and walking are new roadway hazards.
Another important factor in pedestrian deaths involves alcohol in both drivers and pedestrians. In fact, alcohol, particularly where blood alcohol concentration was over the legal limit, was a contributing component in just under 50% of vehicular crashes that resulted in pedestrian fatalities.
In a pedestrian accident study, 40% of pedestrian injuries were caused by direct contact with a car, 32% resulted from hitting the ground, and finally, 26% were caused when the pedestrian hit an unknown object.
Increasing Pedestrian Safety on the Roads
You think it would never happen to you, but the mere act of walking across an intersection could be taking your life in your own hands. While drivers certainly have a great responsibility when they get behind the wheel of a car, keep in mind that pedestrians will bear the physical brunt in a collision. Don’t put your life on the line – you need to stay safe. When walking across a roadway:
- Be visible: Drivers need a good chance to see you to avoid hitting you.
- Be aware: Don’t be a distracted walker. Double check before crossing any road and always assume that a driver will not stop.
- Be predictable: Jaywalking may be efficient but it is also unexpected. Cross at signed or lighted intersections when possible.