Across the country, the number of pedestrian incidents has gone up by almost 10% in recent years. The figures for the state of Kansas are just as worrisome, with an increase of nearly 7% in such incidents between 2008 and 2012. The steep rise in pedestrian incidents that result in injury and loss of life, points to an emerging problem on American roads, and has prompted pedestrians and cyclists to say that they don’t feel safe being out and about on the road.
So, whose responsibility is it?
In 2016, over 500 pedestrians and almost 400 cyclists were injured in motor vehicle incidents in Kansas. The most concerning aspect of such mishaps is that they don’t always involve extreme circumstances like drunk driving. In fact, while the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities due to motor vehicle collisions has risen steadily, there has been a decrease in collisions due to distracted, drunk and even aggressive driving.
The reality is that incidents are attributed to inattentiveness on the part of the drivers as well as pedestrians who are unaware of their surroundings. Yet, some experts believe that “car-centric” culture and developments have led to insensitivity towards pedestrian safety.
Although you can do little to change the on-road behavior of others, you certainly can use safe driving tactics to ensure that you are not the motorist who seriously injures or causes the death of a pedestrian. This is a heavy burden to live with. Here are some tips and information on pedestrian incident hotspots that will help you to avoid such tragic incidents.
Keep an eye out for pedestrians when in these areas:
In the vicinity of schools: This one is a no-brainer! You have kids of all ages darting out from all directions, without giving a second thought to oncoming traffic. Then, there are school buses and parents rushing in and out to pick up their kids. Add regular traffic to this chaos and you have a recipe for trouble. Fortunately, motorists have to follow reduced speed limits at specific times in most school zones to accommodate these problems.
But, roads near colleges and universities have no such traffic restrictions although older kids and youngsters can be just as inattentive or even more so when on the road. So, no matter the age of the student, watch out for and expect distracted pedestrians in these areas.
Residential communities: Once again, we are talking about kids all over the front yards and even on roads, playing and running around paying little attention to the vehicles on the road. Expect that pedestrians may suddenly appear on the road and right in front of your vehicle in such areas.
Narrow roads: Another obvious area of trouble, pedestrians can often be found walking along the shoulder of narrow roads. Drive closer to the center of the street when on narrow roads to keep ample clearance between the vehicle and the foot traffic.
Parking lots: Whether it is the parking lot of a residential complex, a stadium, or a mall, there are bound to be a lot of pedestrians around. However, it is always the empty spot that has the driver’s undivided attention and this is what often leads to injury incidents. Because parking lots are the joint domain of both people and cars, exercise extreme caution when navigating through these areas. Since there are no designated walkways, you will need to constantly scan the area in front of you. Also, never go over 5 mph when in a parking area.
These factors together make for a dangerous combination. As a motorist in urban settings, don’t assume that all pedestrians are off the road at crosswalks just because your light is green.
Special events and tourist attractions: Events and tourist attractions lead to high foot traffic. Remember, if pedestrians are not from your city or country, you cannot expect them to know local traffic conditions. Be patient and exercise extreme caution when passing through such areas. In fact, if you know about an upcoming event, take a detour if possible.
When do these pedestrian incidents occur?
Friday is the most dangerous day for walking on the roads of Kansas, with the month of May reaching the highest rate of pedestrian incidents. Most collisions involving pedestrians occur in the 1-hour timeslot between 3-4 PM, and the majority of them occur in clear weather conditions and on dry pavements.
Additionally, holidays and festival days that often include street revelries can be troublesome for motorists. In Kansas and many other states, Halloween sees the highest number of pedestrian incidents involving children. Similarly, Memorial Day, St, Patrick’s Day and Veteran’s Day call for extra caution, as these days often involve parades.
What can motorists do to avoid pedestrian collisions?
- 1. Remember that pedestrians always have the right of way over vehicles, especially those that are turning.
- 2. Never block the crosswalk when you stop at the red light.
- 3. Do not pull into an intersection unless pedestrians clear half the road that they are crossing.
- 4. Do not overtake or try to pass a vehicle that is stopped at a crosswalk.
- 5. If it is a one-way lane, all motorists should remain stopped until all pedestrians have cleared the road.
- 6. Yield to pedestrians on the sidewalk when entering and exiting alleys and driveways.
- 7. Watch for pedestrians with disabilities, children and seniors. Those with guide/service dogs and canes often cannot see or hear oncoming vehicles.
- 8. When you are on the road, focus exclusively on the road, not on the gadgets or the passengers in the vehicle.
- 9. Drive slowly because this will give you more time to react and stop. Additionally, low speed collisions are less likely to cause severe injuries and fatalities.
- 10. Obey all traffic signs and rules. This helps you avoid fines, and also makes the roads safer for yourself and others around you.
From mammoth 18-wheeler rigs to pedestrians, everybody has an equal right to the roadways. If you or somebody you know has been in injured in a pedestrian incident, call us to find out about potential compensation. We have years of experience handling personal injury cases and we will make sure that you do not have to suffer the consequences of somebody else’s negligence. To fully understand the value of your claim and the rights you have, contact our team of lawyers to fight for you.
– NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts 2015 Data
– GHSA – Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State: 2016 Preliminary Data