A Closer Look: Pedestrian Safety and Statistics in WA State

It is summer time, the gas prices are up, the sun is out, and people are being more “green” than ever before. This ultimately means more pedestrians out walking on our roadways. So, what does this mean for Washington?

In 2009, there were 1,786 pedestrian accidents in Washington state. Pedestrian accidents rank very high in comparison to other accidents. There were 61 wrongful deaths in Washington in 2009.

A study was done in 2010, showing that Washington was ranked 20th in the highest amount of pedestrian fatalities in the nation.

Although there is no information available to understand the scope of the problem, we can try to understand what factors may be involved.

Possible Factors for Increased Risk of Accidents

Technology is definitely ranked high for causing accidents. So many people are on their smart phones and are distracted. This includes drivers and pedestrians. Have you ever seen someone texting on their phone and nearly walk right into a pole or a sign on the sidewalk?

Another reason could be that pedestrian safety is not a huge priority, meaning funds are not being allocated for crosswalks, signals, signs, etc. With the population growth and weak economy, it can just be flat out difficult to keep up with the necessities of pedestrians, because a lot of the state’s attention is directed toward vehicles and buses.

Also, on busy street where several people cross throughout the day, it is usual for that place to have the most accidents, since it sees a lot of pedestrian traffic. Therefore, in places like this, it might be a reasonable consideration to put in an overhead walkway. For example, many walkways were put in on the Las Vegas strip, which has ultimately saved several lives. While Seattle is obviously not Las Vegas, there are some very busy areas downtown that could possibly benefit from having an overhead walkway. Something worth considering (especially for California who had the highest fatality rate in 2009 with nearly 600 deaths).

It is also very important to note how crucial it is to educate people. Not only children, but adults need to continually be educated on pedestrian safety. The reality behind this issue is that thousands of people die each year due to pedestrian accidents.

Although these numbers can be alarming, we need to take them into consideration and take the appropriate steps in order to make Washington a safer place for pedestrians. Pedestrians need to be very cautious and take all of the safety measures seriously.

Safety Tips for Pedestrians

1. Just like your mother told you, look both ways before crossing the street. I know you are a big kid now, but that does not make you above the rules. On a quiet suburban street, it is easy to forget, but it is so important. Who is to say a drunk driver isn’t going to speed around that corner? Many accidents can be prevented if you follow this rule.

2. I know signs can be repetitive, especially when you see the exact same ones everyday on your walk. But, you must always follow all traffic signs and signal. The signs are there for a reason! Read them.

3. Wait for the crosswalk signal to tell you to walk. I know everyone is in a hurry nowadays, but is waiting 10 seconds worth the chance of being hit by a car?

4. Construction site areas can sometimes be very dangerous to pedestrians. Injuries associated with construction sites are very common. Take a different route to avoid the risk of getting hurt.

5. Even though you are paying attention, does not mean the driver that is supposed to stop is. As we are in a technology obsessed world, who is to say the driver isn’t texting or changing the song on his iPod. As a precaution, always wait for the driver to slow down before taking those first few steps to cross the road.

6. I cannot stress enough how important it is to just be aware of your surroundings. Seems simple, right? Watch where you are walking, where motorists are driving, and even where bicyclists are riding. And again, this includes being aware of signs around you and crosswalks. Just because you’re walking and not operating a car, does not mean that it is time to completely check out. Be smart.

How do you think Washington should approach pedestrian safety protocols? Share your thoughts in the comments section of this article.

Chris Davis
Top-rated, award-winning, attorney practicing wrongful death & serious injury law in Seattle.