Officials are urging drivers to be more aware as pedestrian deaths soar to a 28-year high throughout the United States. Distracted driving is a factor in more than 1.6 million crashes each year. It was a contributor in a large portion of accidents that caused the deaths of approximately 6,227 pedestrians in 2018. In Illinois, the number of pedestrian fatalities increased by 19% from the first half of 2017 to that same time period in 2018, taking the lives of 80 people. Without the exterior protections afforded to vehicle occupants, walkers and joggers who are struck by cars commonly suffer serious injuries or death. By avoiding cellphone use, using extra caution in areas where pedestrians are more concentrated, and maintaining focus on the road, drivers can help reduce the number of pedestrians that are killed.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Numerous factors contribute to pedestrian accidents. In Illinois, speed, alcohol consumption, and distracted driving are the top contributing factors. Additionally, drivers who fail to yield the right of way to pedestrians, disobey traffic signals or signs, or neglect to signal when turning often cause such wrecks.
For certain groups of pedestrians, the risk of getting hit by a passing car or truck is greater. Adults aged 65 and older and children account for a significant number of pedestrians injured or killed in collisions with autos. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20% of pedestrian fatalities occurring in 2016 involved older adults. Alcohol consumption also increases pedestrians’ risk of getting hit by a vehicle.
What Can Drivers Do to Share the Road Safely?
To help reduce the number of pedestrian deaths, the first step for drivers is to recognize the unique safety challenges pedestrians face and watch out for people walking or jogging at all times. Other actions drivers can take to improve pedestrian safety include:
- Slowing down for crosswalks
- Using caution when backing out of driveways
- Staying vigilant in parking lots and garages
- Avoiding distractions
- Avoiding drinking and driving
- Taking driving conditions into consideration
There are areas where drivers can expect pedestrians to be, including on sidewalks or in crosswalks. Motorists should keep in mind, however, that pedestrians may also be in unexpected areas. Therefore, drivers must watch for pedestrians at all times when behind the wheel.