In California, drivers of motor vehicles are required to yield to pedestrians crossing the street, whether they are in a marked crosswalk or not. In the 2009 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report on Traffic Safety Facts, pedestrians were specifically studied. Over 4,000 pedestrians died in traffic crashes, and another estimated 59,000 were injured in the United States that year.
To put this into perspective, this equates to a pedestrian being injured every 9 minutes and killed every two hours - and this study did not include any accidents on private property, such as parking lots and driveways. In general, drivers need to make complete stops, not be driving while distracted and to not speed. Pedestrians are particularly vulnerable to motor vehicles, even at slow speeds. As the rate of speed increases, so does the rate of injuries and death. Neighborhood residents can make sure the sidewalk in front of their houses is not blocked, and they can prune trees and bushes to keep visibility clear and allow people full access to the sidewalk.
Where and when do traffic/pedestrian crashes occur? The 4,000 pedestrian fatalities accounted for 12% of all traffic fatalities. Almost three-fourths of these fatalities happened in an urban setting. About the same amount occurred at non-intersections. Contrary to what we might think, 90% happened during normal good weather conditions, but almost 70% happened at night. Interestingly, about one-half occurred on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The NHTSA also discovered that 48% of the fatalities involved alcohol - 35% on the part of the
pedestrians and 13% on the part of the drivers. In a few (6%), both driver and pedestrian had alcohol in their systems.
Pedestrian children accounted for a surprising amount of injuries and fatalities.Almost 40% of all fatalities in children under 16 occurred between the hours of 3 and 7 p.m. Children in that 16 and under range accounted for 25% of all pedestrian injuries in 2009 and 7% of all fatalities. Since the NHTSA study did not take into account any incidences on private property as they do not collect that data, we know that more accidents happened to children in parking lots, driveways and other private property. According to ConsumersUnion.org, the entity that provided the fact sheet to Congress, a child less than 4 years old is killed every other day in a "...non-traffic automobile incident." "Back-up" deaths have been increasing since the early 2000s. Children's inability to understand the danger of a moving vehicle, coupled with the larger size of vehicles (such as SUVs) contribute to this. In February of 2008, Congress passed the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2007 (for the entire summary,click here - K.T. Safety Act). Among other safety measures, it calls for "...an expanded rearward field of view to prevent backing incidents...".
Seniors are also more likely to be struck by vehicles. There are issues of hearing, vision, cognition and physical mobility. They are also more likely to walk than to do any other type of physical activity. While seniors may not sense oncoming danger, drivers also bear responsibility by not speeding or driving distractedly. Signal timing may be off, which is the responsibility of transportation engineers. In addition, sidewalks may be damaged or blocked, which is the responsibility of the city.
The NHTSA released another study in 2009 that found that hybrid electric vehicles were two times more likely to be involved in a pedestrian crash than a normal gasoline engine (NHTSA - Hybrid Cars (PDF)), with the silence of the electric engine being a factor in these types of accidents. Recommendations are being made to add sound to these vehicles to avoid accidents such as this.
The injuries sustained from a pedestrian/automobile collision are somewhat predictable. About 25% of the pedestrians sustain traumatic brain injury. About one-third involve injuries to the legs, and of this one-third, most are leg fractures. The average time spent in a hospital is two days, and with medical costs so high these days, that adds up to a significant amount.
A personal injury attorney is an important factor which may determine the outcome of your claim. Every claim is different, and must be evaluated on an individual basis, so the information provided here is for general informative purposes only, as it simplifies complex legal issues. It is not intended to be legal advice. For information about your specific claim, please contact an auto accident attorney to evaluate your situation.
As consumer justice attorneys, Phillips Law is dedicated to assisting and fighting for individuals who have been injured, disabled or had a family member killed in all types of vehicle or pedestrian crashes in Sacramento and the Gold Country area. We offer legal help and assistance in auto, truck, bus, motorcycle, bicycle and pedestrian cases. We are a local firm emphasizing personal contact with our clients.
Please feel free to call us to speak with an attorney to learn your rights and options at (530) 265-0186.