According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), of the 614 Maryland car accident deaths that occurred in 2007, pedestrian deaths numbered at 116. That’s 116 people who died trying to get to where they were going on foot — whether it was to school, to work, to the store, to walk the dog, or to visit a neighbor or friend. Maybe some were just trying to get home. They didn’t make it.
For the same year (2007), across the U.S., 4,654 pedestrians died and an estimated 70,000 or more were injured in motor-vehicle related pedestrian accidents. (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts: Maryland 2003-2007)
As experienced Maryland pedestrian accident lawyers, we know what can happen when walkers find themselves in the wrong place, at the wrong time — in the path of an oncoming vehicle.
We’ve seen many different circumstances where car, motorcycle, SUV, and truck accidents turned even more tragic when people on foot got critically injured or killed in Maryland traffic mishaps. NHTSA recommends many of the same “common sense” methods our mothers taught us for keeping safe when traveling on foot:
1. Cross at intersections. Most people who are hit by cars are struck when they are not in a crosswalk. Some municipalities will fine drivers who fail to stop for and give right of way to pedestrians in a crosswalk.
2. Use crossing signals. They’re there for a reason. A stop light can be your best defense against being struck by a motorist who is on their cell phone with the stereo blaring, tearing down the road after a nerve-wracking day at work.
3. Look left, right, AND left again. THEN cross. Remember what mom said about looking both ways? Do it, then look left again before setting foot into the roadway. Motorists are in a terrible hurry these days. In a split second, particularly if you’re crossing a curved road, a car can be fast upon you on the left — a driver that doesn’t expect to see a pedestrian in the road.
4. Make eye contact with drivers. Even drivers stopped at a stop light or stop sign. Some drivers who are not paying attention may try to make a right-hand turn after you’ve entered the crosswalk. There’s also the problem of motorists running yellow lights or making “rolling stops” and going through stop signs. A crosswalk will not save your life if the driver still doesn’t know you’re there. Making eye contact is a smart safety measure.
5. Wear light-colored clothing. Have you ever had to slam on your brakes because you were driving at night, and suddenly a pedestrian appeared seemingly out of nowhere? Don’t assume drivers can see you at night, even on city streets. Carry a flashlight if you have to walk on rural, poorly lit roads.
NHTSA reports that in 2007, most traffic-related pedestrian fatalities took place in urban areas (73%), in normal weather conditions (90%), at night (67%), and where people were not crossing in intersections (77%). Most victims were male. (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts 2007 Data: Pedestrians) Children and the elderly are particularly at-risk populations for traffic pedestrian accidents — topics we will cover in future blog entries.
Remember, even better than “walking away from an accident” is avoiding one in the first place. That’s true for pedestrians as well as motorists.
Related Web Resources