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Data Reveals Those Most Impacted by Rising Number of Pedestrian Accidents

December 25, 2016

Pedestrian accidents present a much greater risk of injury than the risk experienced by those in motor vehicles because a pedestrian has no protective steel enclosure let alone safety equipment like seatbelts and airbags. While the danger associated with pedestrian accidents has fallen consistently over a recent five year period, this trend has ceased as the number of pedestrian accidents have started to climb. During a recent year period, almost 4,300 people died in pedestrian accidents while another 70,000 people suffered injury. Interestingly, the rise in pedestrian accidents has not impacted all groups of pedestrians equally. In this article, our personal injury attorneys will review the particular risk factors that increase the risk of someone being involved in a pedestrian accident and speculate on potential reasons for the sudden increase in the number of pedestrian accidents.

Age Related Factors: Senior citizens are far more likely to suffer serious injury or fatalities than younger pedestrians. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that elderly pedestrians age 65 and older are struck by motor vehicles twice as often as those age 34 and under. Although seniors embark on fewer trips on foot and do not cover as much ground during those outings, they tend to suffer more severe injuries when they are hit by a car, truck or SUV. The fact that seniors may be more limited in terms of physical agility and reflexes so that they do not move as rapidly to reduce the force of impact may play a role in elderly walkers suffering more serious injury. Additionally, some seniors suffer from osteoporosis so they may be more susceptible to broken bones and take longer to recover. It is even possible that seniors may disproportionately suffer injury in pedestrian accidents because of increased exposure while crossing the street if they take longer to cross.

Urban vs. Rural Environments: Most pedestrian accidents occur in urban centers like Nashville rather than on rural country highways. The NHTSA data indicates that most pedestrian accidents occurred in urban areas. The reasons for this discrepancy would seem to be a much higher number of pedestrians and more vehicles traveling in close proximity to pedestrians in metro areas. However, some traffic safety experts speculate that a key reason for this disparity involves the focus of government planning agencies on motor vehicle safety with much less attention devoted to pedestrian safety.

Gender Based Risk Factors: More than twice as many men are involved in fatal pedestrian accidents than women according to according to a study published in the journal, Injury Prevention. Because men do not tend to walk significantly more than women, the authors of the study speculate that the reasons for the disparity may be that men are more likely to take risks crossing highways where traffic moves at high rates of speed. The researchers also suggest that men are more likely to be intoxicated so "drinking and walking" may be a key factor in why more men are more likely to be involved in fatal pedestrian accidents.

Outside Crosswalks & Intersections: More than seven in ten pedestrian accidents occur when those in the roadway are not in a crosswalk according to the NHTSA. In fact, eight percent of all pedestrian accidents happen in areas other than intersections. This suggests that motorists may be more attentive in the proximity of crosswalks and intersections where they expect pedestrians to be present. Pedestrians may wish to cross at intersections with crosswalks where this is a viable option.

Weather: While conditions of dense fog or heavy rain can make it difficult to see pedestrians, almost 90 percent of pedestrian accidents occur on clear days. While this seems odd, it may be explained by the natural tendency of drivers to slow down in rain and fog.

Speed: Many pedestrian accidents occur because a driver is violating the speed limit. This is hardly a surprising result because the faster a vehicle is traveling the longer it takes to slow or stop the vehicle. Drivers who violate the speed limit in residential communities and school zones pose a particularly high degree of risk.

Alcohol Impairment: Although most would predict that drunk drivers are responsible for many pedestrian accidents, they might be more surprised to learn that alcohol- impaired pedestrians also are likely to be involved in pedestrian accidents. While 47 percent of pedestrian accidents involve a party who is intoxicated, the pedestrian is intoxicated in 33 percent of these accidents. The bottom line is that drinking and driving may be a more dangerous hazard because it poses danger to others, but intoxicated walking poses a significant danger for pedestrians as well.

There are a variety of reasons that may explain the overall rise in pedestrian accidents. The most likely cause is the increase use of mobile phones and other portable electronic devices. Because most licensed drivers now own cell phones with an array of complex functions, drivers are now equipped with an electronic box full of distractions when operating a motor vehicle. Cell phone texting and calling increases the risk of pedestrian accidents in a number of ways:

  • Decreases the likelihood of spotting a pedestrian
  • Slows reaction time needed to swerve or stop to avoid colliding with a pedestrian
  • Induces drivers to remove their hands from the steering wheel
  • Causes impaired concentration affecting reaction time and judgment

Put Our Law Firm's Over 38 Years of Legal Experience to Work For Your Claim!

If you or a loved one has been injured in Atlanta or across Georgia in any motor-vehicle incident that you believe was caused by negligence, contact our Georgia premises liability injury team at Montlick & Associates to discover what rights to compensation you may have. Our firm has over 38 years of experience in representing bus accident victims across Georgia and in the Southeast. Contact us to schedule your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

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Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.