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Pedestrian Dangers on The Rise Across the U.S.

old time photoThe data is in, and the results are clear – It’s becoming increasingly dangerous to walk in cities such as New York, Miami and Los Angeles due to the related injuries and even fatalities. While the actual numbers haven’t fluctuated much – 2,141 fatalities during the first half of 2013 and 2,125 deaths during the same period in 2014 – other statistics bear out the risk of accidents for those on foot.

Alarming Statistics

Those persons traveling on foot should be especially alert in the following four states:

• California
• Florida
• New York and
• Texas.

In 2013, an estimated 43 percent of all crashes across the nation for those on foot occurred in just these states. An additional concern is that 36 percent of accidents for walkers registered blood-alcohol-content levels of .08 percent of higher during that same year. Possibly correlating with alcohol consumption, 70 percent of the incidents occurred between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

High-Risk Groups

Walking poses an additional threat for the following groups of people:

1. Children. Although the number of deaths in this age group is dropping, more than 20 percent of traffic fatalities for those between five and 15 were on foot in 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
2. Older adults. The percentage of fatalities also stood at 20 percent for walkers 65 and older during that same time frame.
3. The alcohol-impaired, including drivers. In addition to the risk for pedestrians, 14 percent of fatalities in 2012 involved a driver with a BAC of .08 percent or higher.
4. Speeding motorists. The speed of the driver directly affected the risk of an accident and increased likelihood of serious injury or death.
5. Men. Men account for 70 percent of the victims in pedestrian-related fatalities although the reasons for this are not clear.

The Good News

On the other hand, slight changes in behaviors can reduce your risk of an injury-accident or death for someone on foot. Limiting the amount of alcohol consumption will likely help a walker stay more proactive. Being extra observant when walking during those high-risk hours can further protect you when on foot. Here are a few additional safety tips while on foot that can help you stay safe:

• Wear reflective or light-colored clothing to increase visibility.
• Carry a flashlight for additional visibility.
• Use designated crosswalks or an intersection when possible instead of crossing in the middle of the street.
• Walk with others instead of alone as a driver is more likely to see a group of individuals.
• Avoid walking in inclement weather. If you are caught in a storm, try to take shelter until the weather clears up.
• Pay attention while walking. Burying your head in your phone or listening to loud music distracts you from what is going on around you. Unsurprisingly, teens are especially apt to be victims of distracted walking. Even so, distractions, including those from electronics, affect both drivers and pedestrians.
• Walk on a sidewalk when you can. However, if you aren’t able to do so, stay on the shoulder of the road and walk facing traffic.
• Petition for reduced speeds in areas with heavy foot traffic, especially if accidents have occurred there. While school zones already have lowered speed limits, reduced speeds could also be imposed near day cares, senior centers and parks and potentially drop accident rates in those areas.

And Even More Good News

While the number of fatalities for children and the elderly is a reason for concern, those figures are dropping. For example, in 1975, the percentage was 9.3, which dropped to 2.2 during 2013. The decrease for children from zero to 12 was even more dramatic as those numbers dropped from 21 percent in 1975 to 4 percent in 2013.

The Bad News

On the downside, the data showed a significant spike in fatalities for walkers between the ages of 20 and 69 from 1975 until 2013. Just since 2009, deaths rose by 15 percent for this age group. While Millennials seem to be demanding neighborhoods that include walking trails with easy access on foot to near-by restaurants and shopping, officials express safety concerns for walkers.

Additional risk factors include trekking for help on the side of a highway after a crash or breakdown or even rendering aid as a first responder. The “Move-Over Law” partially addresses this in order to protect our law enforcement and emergency personnel.

What to Do After a Pedestrian v. Auto Collision 

Despite your best efforts and most cautious behavior, you might be the victim of an accident while walking in any urban environment from Los Angeles to Atlanta through no fault of your own. If so, you should first and foremost seek prompt medical attention for your injuries.  You will want to talk with a knowledge attorney who understands your concerns and who can provide you with a plan of action.  This is the best way to protect your legal rights and insure that wrongdoers pay their financial obligations towards the costs of medical expenses, lost wages and the physical pain and emotional distress that these incidents cause.

Author Bio: Steven Sweat is an award winning personal injury attorney based in Los Angeles, CA and the principal of Steven M. Sweat, APC.  He is a regular contributor to this and other blogs related to tort law and accident claims including motor vehicle collisions.


Centers for Disease Control, Statistics on Pedestrian Safety


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