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Staying safe as a pedestrian

Injuries in pedestrian accident cases can be particularly severe. The reason for this is straightforward: pedestrians don't have the benefit of airbags, steel frames, seat cushions, helmets, protective gear, and other safety devices like vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, or even bicyclists do.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that about 80 pedestrians die in Tennessee annually, representing about eight percent of the overall traffic accident fatality rate.

Larger states such as New York (over 330 pedestrian deaths each year) and California (over 700 pedestrian deaths each year on average) have more overall fatalities. All of these deaths are tragic.

There are actions that both pedestrians and vehicle operators can take in order to help share the road safely and prevent accidents.

Tips for pedestrians

Many modern-day pedestrian accidents involve a distracted pedestrian walking out into traffic between parked cars, against a light, or at an unmarked crosswalk. It is important to stay focused on your surroundings as a pedestrian, and not be so engrossed in a phone call, text message, email, or app that you make mistakes.

It is also important, when walking, to:

  • Wear brightly colored or reflective clothing if possible; this makes you easier to see, particularly at night or during inclement weather;
  • Stay on sidewalks or marked paths whenever they are available;
  • Follow traffic control signals such as Walk/Don't Walk lights, red lights, and stop signs;
  • never assume that a vehicle will stop for you simply because you have the "right of way";
  • Walk facing the flow of traffic if you are in an area without sidewalks or marked pathways; and
  • Use crosswalks or corners to cross the street; jaywalking makes you harder to see.

Tips for drivers

Drivers need to stay aware of the possibility of pedestrians, especially children and particularly in urban areas, and around retail centers, schools, parking lots, churches, and parks. Basically, anywhere people congregate, pedestrians could be present. Accepting the possibility that you need to share the road can help put you in the proper mindset for attentive driving and safety.

In addition to acknowledging that pedestrians are likely to be present, drivers can:

  • Stop before marked crosswalks.
  • Look out for pedestrians before entering into a parking lot or proceeding through an intersection; pedestrian accidents are particularly common when vehicles are turning, so pay close attention then.
  • Avoid driving while distracted or under the influence; both of these could decrease your reaction time and compromise decision-making abilities.
  • Look carefully before you pull or back out of a driveway, alley, or side street to ensure no pedestrians are in your path.

Sadly, sometimes pedestrian accidents happen even if you've done everything possible to stay safe as a pedestrian or stay alert as a driver. If you were injured in a pedestrian accident because of someone else's negligence, or a loved one was killed, you may be able to bring a claim for compensation. Consult a local personal injury attorney for more information.

Additionally, if you were the driver of a car involved in an accident where a pedestrian was hit, the investigation into the accident may involve the possibility of criminal charges, and you should consult with an experienced attorney who can represent you through the investigation and in the event any charges are filed.

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Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers
735 Broad Street, Suite 800
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Chattanooga, TN 37402-2913

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