Everyone is a pedestrian at some point. Whether you go for a long walk every day or just cross the street after parking your car, you face the risk of a vehicle striking you. That shouldn’t keep you from enjoying the health benefits of walking, but it’s important to be aware of your surroundings as a pedestrian and to obey all traffic laws as a driver to keep pedestrians safe.
State law holds both parties responsible for avoiding an accident. These rules apply to all drivers:
- Don’t get behind the wheel of a vehicle after consuming alcohol or drugs.
- Stop the car and give the pedestrian the right-of-way when he or she appears on the one side of the street and obviously plans to walk across to the other side.
- Stop the vehicle or at least slow down before passing another vehicle that may have stopped to allow a pedestrian adequate time to cross the street.
- If a pedestrian steps into the same part of the road that a car is approaching, the driver should yield the right-of-way. This is true at both controlled and uncontrolled intersections.
- When a school bus displays a stop sign or a school crossing guard holds a flag with a stop symbol on it, drivers must come to a complete stop until all children have crossed the street.
When you are a pedestrian, you legally have the right-of-way at any controlled or uncontrolled intersection until the walk signal stops flashing. Although drivers must legally give you enough time to cross before proceeding through the intersection, this does not always happen. Here are some things you can do to ensure your safety as a pedestrian:
- Always use crossing signals when they are available. At uncontrolled intersections, look for the nearest natural place to cross and then look both ways to make sure no vehicles are traveling at you in either direction.
- Never cross a street diagonally unless specifically allowed by a traffic control device.
- If you are walking on a street without sidewalks, make sure you walk towards traffic and not away from it.
- If a car is coming towards you, avoid stepping into the street even if you think you have enough time to cross. Several things could cause you to lose your balance, which would make it difficult to avoid a collision. Wait until no cars are visible in either direction before crossing.
- If you are at a street without lane markings or an unmarked crosswalk, you should motion for the driver to go first.
All drivers must stop if they know or suspect that they hit a pedestrian. A driver who doesn’t stop to attempt to assist the injured pedestrian is guilty of hit and run and could face severe legal consequences.
Common Actions Leading to Pedestrian Accidents
The actions of a driver, pedestrian, or both can cause a collision. Obviously, the pedestrian is at much higher risk of injury or death due to having nothing surrounding him or her to offer protection. Distracted driving is a leading cause of all types of accidents, including those between vehicles and pedestrians. This can entail many different types of actions; such as texting while driving, attempting to navigate a GPS, eating, drinking, or adjusting controls within the vehicle.
Other driver actions that can lead to a crash with a pedestrian include:
- Driving straight through an intersection without looking to see if a pedestrian is trying to cross the street.
- Failing to stop or slow down at a stop sign or traffic control device.
- Driving after consuming alcohol or drugs, which leads to a slowing of reflexes.
- Proceeding through an intersection before a pedestrian has had enough time to make it to the other side of the street.
Pedestrians can also be on the street while impaired by alcohol or drugs. This can cause them to take unwise risks that put them in danger of a vehicle striking them. Other common pedestrian actions leading to accidents include:
- Failing to wear reflective clothing at night.
- Not hearing what is happening around them due to listening to music through headphones.
- Attempting to cross the street at locations other than the intersection.
Even if the pedestrian clearly caused the accident, the driver must still stop and attempt to help.
The Severe Financial Toll of a Pedestrian Accident
The Hill reports that there were just under 6,000 pedestrian fatalities in 2016, an 11% increase from the previous year, and the steepest year-to-year increase since the government started keeping records. In addition to those killed, over 100,000 pedestrians sustain severe to moderate injuries from in crashes with vehicles. Those who survive often have a long road to recovery ahead of them as they deal with things such as traumatic brain injuries, paralysis, broken bones, burns, and other serious and sometimes life-threatening injuries.
When someone is seriously injured in a vehicle crash, it turns their whole world upside down. Working may be impossible, but there are still household bills to pay. On top of that, there are also mounting medical bills that are incurred to treat the injuries and seek rehab. If the accident is the result of the negligence of another party, that party should be held responsible to compensate for the injuries.
We’re Here to Help
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a pedestrian accident, Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short, Attorneys at Law, can help. The first thing you need to do is contact our Auburn, Alabama office at 334-821-3892 to request a free and confidential review of your case. Our attorneys will assess the facts of your case and advise you on your legal options. This allows you to make a fully informed decision on which course of action you want to pursue.
We understand that at a time like this, finances are tight, and you may not be able to come up with the funds to hire a lawyer on retainer. We do not charge any upfront attorney fees to our personal injury clients – you only pay if we win the case.