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What You Need to Know about Pedestrian Safety

Posted in Pedestrian Accident on October 19, 2017

Like many cities throughout the U.S., city leaders in Nashville are focused on making Music City’s streets as safe as possible for pedestrians—including both residents and the large number of tourists who visit the area every week. To accomplish that, many neighborhoods have seen road construction and road improvements in recent years, including wider shoulders, the construction of sidewalks, and the installation of crosswalks complete with pedestrian-friendly traffic lights.

And while getting around town on foot is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, get exercise, and take in the sights and sounds of Nashville, it also carries some inherent risks. Unlike drivers and even bicyclists and motorcyclists, pedestrians lack any form of protection. They don’t have air bags, seat belts, or helmets and riding gear to protect them in the event of an accident. That’s why many pedestrian accidents leave victims with debilitating and even life-threatening injuries.

At Matt Hardin Law, our Nashville pedestrian accident lawyers are dedicated to helping people who are hurt in pedestrian accidents—especially when drivers were distracted, speeding, intoxicated, or otherwise negligent behind the wheel. With more than three decades of experience, we know how to gather evidence that proves the driver was at-fault—and that maximize the chances that victims like you get full compensation. Call us at (615) 200-1111 or complete a free online form to get in touch with our legal team today.

5 Fast Facts about Pedestrian Accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that while auto accident fatalities are on the decline, the number of pedestrian fatalities held steady from 2004-2013, with between 4,100 and 4,900 pedestrians losing their lives in accidents annually in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the number of fatal pedestrian accidents in the U.S. increased even further in 2015, with more than 5,300 reported and 129,000 injuries nationwide.

Knowing these five important facts about pedestrian accidents can help you and your loved ones avoid being statistics:

  1. Most pedestrian accidents occur outside intersections and in urban areas. The NHTSA reports that 73 percent of fatal pedestrian accidents occurred in urban areas in 2013 compared to just 27 percent in rural areas. In addition, 69 percent of those accidents happened outside of intersections. This data helps illustrate why it’s so important to always cross the street at crosswalks, even if it requires walking a further distance to reach one. In addition, it also illustrates the need for being attentive and cautious when walking in urban areas where traffic density is heavier and there are more distractions for drivers.
  2. Pedestrian accidents are more likely to happen at night. The NHTSA’s data found that fatal pedestrian accidents were most likely to occur from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the winter and fall, and most likely to occur between 9 p.m. and 12 a.m. in the spring and summer. Visibility is a major contributing factor for pedestrian accidents regardless of the time of year, and crashes are most likely after sunset. Pedestrians can protect themselves by walking in well-lit areas, wearing bright and reflective clothing, and carrying flashlights.
  3. Alcohol is involved in nearly half of all fatal pedestrian accidents. Whether the driver or pedestrian was under the influence, the NHTSA reports that 49 percent of fatal pedestrian accidents involve alcohol consumption. In addition, statistics show that around 34 percent of fatal pedestrian accidents involve the pedestrian having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher—which is over the legal limit in Tennessee, while 15 percent involve the driver having a BAC of that level or higher.
  4. 90 percent of pedestrians who are killed in vehicle crashes are hit head-on. Regardless of the time of day, location, or other contributing factors, the NHTSA found that 90 percent of pedestrian fatalities involving passenger cars were direct impacts, meaning the pedestrians were struck by the front of the vehicles involved. Lights trucks, SUVs, pickup trucks, and vans all had similar percentages, while commercial trucks and buses were lower at 71 percent and 68 percent respectively.
  5. Pedestrians face a risk of death 1.5-times greater than vehicle occupants on every outing. The CDC reports that every time pedestrians travel somewhere on foot, their risk of being involved in a fatal accident is 1.5-times higher than both drivers and pedestrians traveling in motor vehicles. Because of that increased risk, it’s vital for pedestrians to be careful every time they set out on foot and to take as many precautions as possible to reduce their risks.

The NHTSA’s data on pedestrian accidents shows that Nashville and Davidson County have a relatively low percentage of pedestrian fatalities compared to other major cities in the U.S., with pedestrian accidents accounting for around 17 percent of all fatal traffic accidents.

Safety Reminders for Pedestrians and Drivers

Pedestrian safety is an important responsibility for both drivers and anyone who gets around town on foot. The NHTSA recommends these safety tips for pedestrians:

  • Always use sidewalks when they’re available.
  • Stay alert and avoid using smartphones, MP3 players, or other devices that cause distractions or interfere with your ability to hear traffic sounds.
  • Never assume a driver can see you, and walk towards traffic when possible to make yourself more visible.
  • Don’t walk near traffic if you’re intoxicated or impaired after consuming alcohol or prescription medications.

Drivers can reduce their risk of being involved in accidents with pedestrian by following these tips:

  • Be on the lookout for pedestrians everywhere, but especially in parking lots, residential areas, and urban areas.
  • Remember that pedestrians have the right of way in many scenarios.
  • Never pass vehicles at crosswalks, as they may have stopped to let pedestrians walk through the intersection.
  • Follow all traffic laws in school zones and at bus stops.

Safe Walking Checklist

If you or a loved one frequently walk to work, school, or just around your neighborhood, it’s important to be aware of the walkability of where you live and where you travel to. Answering the following questions can help you make a better determination of what roads are safe to walk on and what roads need improvement:

  • Do you have room to walk? Roads with narrow shoulders or no sidewalks aren’t pedestrian-friendly, as traffic may pass dangerously close to people traveling on foot. That can lead to serious accidents.
  • Is it easy to cross the street? Roads that aren’t equipped with crosswalks or traffic signals are hazardous for pedestrians, as they must rely on sight and sound to safely cross—and that isn’t always reliable.
  • Are drivers accommodating? In some neighborhoods, drivers are more accommodating of pedestrians, as they encounter them more often. But in other neighborhoods, drivers are less likely to move over and may even drive aggressively in the presence of pedestrians.

If your neighborhood doesn’t fit these criteria, you can bring up your concerns with your local traffic engineering or public works department. You can also attend neighborhood board meetings, write petitions to the city, and contact the media to help make your voice heard. Pedestrian-safety improvements benefit everyone in a community, and sidewalks, crosswalks, and reduced speed limits can help save lives.