Pedestrian accident fatalities have been on the rise in recent years, and this should be a cause for concern for everyone – especially those who have children. In 2018 (the most recent year we have full records for), there were 6,283 pedestrian deaths. This marked a 3% increase over the previous year, and it was the highest number of deaths since 1990.
Alabama is ranked 8th highest in the United States in pedestrian deaths, and statistics show that pedestrian accident fatalities in our state have increased 60% since 2008. Nationally, pedestrians now account for approximately 16% of all traffic-related deaths, which is up from 11% just a few years ago.
What is Causing so Many Pedestrian Accidents?
There are several common reasons why pedestrian accidents occur. These include:
- Speeding (especially in school zones)
- Aggressive/Reckless Driving
- Driving while Intoxicated
- Failure to Look Carefully while Backing Up
In recent years, things have clearly become more dangerous for pedestrians. Experts believe that this is due to a number of factors. First of all, our population has increased, and a growing number of people are choosing to walk for either health reasons or for the health of our environment. This means there are more pedestrians out walking than ever before.
Another issue is the types of vehicles people are driving these days. The number of SUVs on the road has risen by more than 60% since 2010, and SUVs now account for nearly 50% of all US car sales. SUVs sit higher above the ground, and with many of them, it is more difficult to see pedestrians, particularly small children. Because of their size and stature, SUVs also have the potential to inflict more damage and cause more serious injuries when they collide with a pedestrian.
Finally, smart phone use is clearly one of the major contributors to the increase in pedestrian crashes. Texting while driving and similar activities require a driver’s entire focus. This takes their focus away from the road, causing them to miss important details, such as a pedestrian crossing in front of them.
Smart phone use is not limited only to motorists, however. Pedestrians are also susceptible to becoming distracted by their phones through texting, watching videos, taking selfies, and turning their music up so loud that they cannot hear vehicles nearby.
Tips for Avoiding Pedestrian Accidents
We are all pedestrians at some point, and we all need to do our part to reverse recent trends and reduce the number of pedestrian accidents.
- Avoid Distracted Driving: As we talked about earlier, texting while driving and other smart phone activity is very dangerous, and whenever we drive, we should put our phones away. Pay attention to the road rather than your phone, it is not worth risking a life just to send a text.
- Refrain from Drunk Driving: Chemical impairment slows reaction times and has been shown to result in very poor driving decisions. Never drive while intoxicated – call a friend, call a cab or Uber, get a hotel room, do whatever you have to do to avoid putting yourself in that position.
- Slow Down in Pedestrian-Heavy Areas: Be especially careful in school zones and near bus stops and other areas where there are a lot of pedestrians. Drive slowly in these places and always be prepared for the possibility of a pedestrian crossing in front of you unexpectedly.
- Take Inclement Weather into Account: If you are driving in heavy rain, ice, snow, or other types of bad weather, be sure to slow down and give vehicles and pedestrians extra space, so we can all get to where we are going safely.
- Be a Defensive Driver: The bottom line is that we should all practice defensive driving, meaning always assume that someone else on the road might do something dangerous, and be ready for it.
- Stay Visible: Wear bright clothing so that motorists can see you more easily.
- Use Sidewalks Whenever Possible: Although not all cities and towns in Alabama have ample sidewalk space, stay on the sidewalks whenever you can. And if you must walk along the road, stay as far away from vehicles as possible.
- Stick to Designated Crossing Areas: Be predictable, follow all the rules of the road, and only cross the streets in designated crossing areas.
- Make Eye Contact with Motorists: When crossing, do NOT assume that drivers can see you. Try to make eye contact with the driver of the vehicle you are crossing in front of, so you know that they know you are there.
- Stay Alert and Avoid Distractions: As with drivers, pedestrians should also stay alert at all times and avoid heavy smart phone activity while walking, and especially when you are crossing the road.
Injured in a Pedestrian Accident in Alabama? Contact an Experienced Attorney
Even when we employ all of the best safety practices, we cannot control the actions of others. If you or someone close to you suffered injury in a pedestrian accident or any other type of traffic-related event, you will need strong legal counsel by your side working hard to recover the full and fair compensation you deserve.
If your accident occurred in Birmingham or any other nearby Alabama community, contact Burge & Burge for assistance. Message us online or call our office today at 205-251-9000 for a free consultation with a member of our legal team.