Most pedestrian accidents could be prevented if drivers paid more attention to the road. In many cases, drivers may not even realize that pedestrians have the right of way, and that motor vehicles need to yield to people in crosswalks and high-traffic areas.
Pedestrians may also be able to prevent some accidents by wearing reflective clothing, using only marked crossings, and paying close attention to their surroundings. Unfortunately, no matter how attentive a pedestrian is, they may not be able to get out of the way of a speeding car in time.
Some of the most common causes of pedestrian vs. motor vehicle accidents are:
Inattention: The driver failed to check for a pedestrian before driving through an area, even if it was clear from signage, lights, and road markings that a pedestrian might be there. Increasingly, pedestrian vs. motor vehicle accidents are being caused by drivers who took their eyes off the road to play with their phones, talk to their passengers, or use their GPS devices.
Unmarked Crosswalks: A large percentage of pedestrian accidents occur at intersections. It’s only natural that pedestrians need to cross the street—but when they have to navigate without clear crosswalk markings and signals, tragedy is often the result. Pedestrians may be able to mitigate some risks by crossing at a marked crosswalk if one is available nearby. However, drivers should still watch out for pedestrians as they pass through intersections, even if they don’t see a clearly marked crosswalk.
Left-Hand Turns: When a driver is turning left, they must pay close attention to oncoming traffic. While a pedestrian is crossing at an intersection with the signal, they usually look straight ahead, not to their side. All too often, that means a driver turning left accelerates straight into a pedestrian. To prevent this, drivers need to make sure that the area they are turning into is clear, and pedestrians should look to the side to make sure no one is turning left. In areas with a high rate of pedestrian casualties, experts recommend switching alternating crossing lights out for four-way “pedestrian scrambles.” This alternate traffic signal pattern shuts down all motor vehicle traffic in an intersection, allowing pedestrians to cross the street in any direction, including diagonally.
Right On Red: Many motorists who are turning right at a red light don’t fully stop and check their surroundings. They come to a rolling stop, glance toward oncoming traffic to make sure they have enough space to pull out, and accelerate. This maneuver often means that drivers cut off or slam into pedestrians who are trying to cross in front of their vehicles.
Dark Clothing: Unfortunately, many intersections aren’t well lit after dark. Walkers and bikers in black, grey, dark brown, or dark blue clothing may be difficult to see against the black surface of an asphalt road at night. In Washington state, many pedestrian accidents could be avoided if pedestrians were more easily visible to drivers. If you plan to go walking late at night, it’s a good idea to choose bright colors and reflective outfits. If you’re frequently travelling as a pedestrian after dark, it may be time to invest in a reflective vest, a wearable flashing light, or reflective strips for your jacket.