Though it doesn't feel much like spring today, recent weather forecasts promise that we can expect warmer temperatures in the weeks and months ahead. And when the weather's suitable, there tends to be an increased number of pedestrians on and along Columbia's roadways. In this post, our Missouri personal injury lawyers discuss pedestrian traffic accidents and recommend a few safety precautions for Missourians who plan to travel by foot this spring.
Pedestrian accidents: The facts
• According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 4,432 pedestrians were killed and more than 69,000 were injured in 2011 motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. Pedestrians account for approximately 14% of all auto accident fatalities.
• Within the next 24-hour period, an average 324 people will receive emergency medical treatment for pedestrian-related injuries, reports the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
• Data from the Missouri Highway Patrol reveals that 91.2% of 2011 pedestrian traffic crashes resulted in injuries or fatalities, where only 36.3% of all traffic crashes caused someone to be killed or injured.
• Fatal accidents involving pedestrians are more likely to happen in urban areas, and they often occur on crosswalks, sidewalks, median strips and traffic islands.
Safety tips for Missouri pedestrians
• Obey all signs and signals. Follow all pedestrian signals, but don't rely on these signals alone. Unfortunately, the fact that you have the right of way doesn't guarantee that other vehicles will stop for you.
• Take steps to make yourself visible to drivers. When you're traveling by foot, wear white or light colors to make it easier for drivers to see you. Use reflectors and a flashlight when walking at night. When you're preparing to cross the street, be sure to stand clear of obstructions (such as parked vehicles, hedges, etc.) so approaching drivers will know you're there.
• Stay focused on what's happening around you. In today's world, distractedness is proving to be just as hazardous to pedestrians as it is to drivers. A study published in the journal Injury Prevention found that nearly one out of three pedestrians is using a mobile device while attempting to cross a busy roadway. Furthermore, texting pedestrians were four times less likely to follow safety rules. Your best chance of avoiding involvement in a pedestrian accident is to pay close attention to the vehicles traveling near you.
• Use extra care when crossing. When possible, use designated pedestrian crossings, as drivers are more likely to anticipate foot traffic in such crosswalks. Before stepping into the roadway, always look left, then right, then left again - and keep your eyes peeled for turning vehicles.