In 2016, almost 6,000 pedestrians were killed in the United States due to crash-related occurrences. This amounts to a pedestrian death about every 1.5 hours.
The most at-risk pedestrians are the elderly and children. In 2016, those 65 years and older accounted for 20% of all pedestrian deaths. For children, 20% of all deaths from crashes were pedestrians under age 15.
The numbers are increasing. As of 2018, there were 6227 reported pedestrian deaths from crashes. That was an increase of 250 deaths from 2017. In 2017, there was a pedestrian death about every 1.25 hours. Overall, there has been a 41% increase in pedestrian fatalities since 2008 and those deaths account for 16% of all traffic fatalities in the United States.
The reasons for these increased occurrences are blamed on large, heavy SUVs causing more severe injuries, cell phone use and increased population walking the streets. Each of these factors adds to the likelihood of pedestrian-involved crashes. No one can ignore these statistics because at some point, everyone is a pedestrian.
Whether you are in the high-risk group, a concerned pedestrian or a family member of a high-risk pedestrian, there are recommendations (or requirements for children) you can pass onto those at risk. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, (“NHTSA”) published a list of helpful guidelines that all pedestrians should follow. They include:
- Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
- Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available.
- If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic and as far away from traffic as possible.
- Keep alert at all times. Stay off electronic devices that distract you from traffic conditions.
- Whenever possible, cross streets at crosswalks and intersections where drivers expect pedestrians. Look for cars, motorcycles or bicycles in all directions, even those turning left or right. [There is a NHTSA study that has concluded pedestrians in crosswalks expect cars to stop for them even though the car has no intent, either intentionally or not, to slow or stop.]
- If there is no crosswalk, ensure you are well lit in sunlight or with personal lighting to be easily seen by a driver.
- Never assume a driver sees you. Rather, always be on the defensive. Wear reflective clothing and make eye contact with drivers before you commit to crossing.
- Be careful of cars entering and exiting driveways and parking lots.
- Stay away from substances that affect your judgment while walking.
The best practices as a pedestrian are ensuring you can be seen and making sure drivers are aware of your presence. While you may never know the true intentions of a driver or know absolutely that they are aware of you, or capable of reacting to you, taking every reasonable measure to protect yourself is important.