Beware: Intersections Aren’t Always Safe for Pedestrians

Pedestrian accidents at intersectionsIn 2015, 5,376 pedestrians lost their lives in traffic crashes, and 18% of these fatalities took place at intersections, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This is shocking since intersections and crosswalks were designed with pedestrian safety in mind. Unfortunately, these numbers indicate that walking across an intersection—even in a crosswalk—isn’t always safe.

The dangers associated with walking through intersections are very real. Intersections are busy places, with drivers changing lanes, going straight, turning, and trying to make it through before the light turns red. And most drivers are generally looking for other traffic—not pedestrians. As a result, intersections can be very dangerous for people trying to cross the street on foot.

Causes of Pedestrian Intersection Accidents

Pedestrian accidents that occur at intersections are often caused by driver negligence and failure to follow the rules of the road. Some of the most common factors involved in these types of pedestrian accidents include:

  • Failure to yield. Drivers are supposed to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in crosswalks and at intersections. This means that drivers are supposed to look for pedestrians before turning or traveling through an intersection. Unfortunately, many pedestrian intersection accidents occur because drivers want to hurry and make it through an intersection and fail to see pedestrians.
  • Distracted driving. Texting, emailing, talking on the phone, or using a cell phone for any other reason while driving causes a driver to take his eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off of driving. In fact, distracted drivers are responsible for many pedestrian accidents.
  • Speeding. When a driver is traveling at an excessive rate of speed, the driver will have a hard time reacting quickly and safely to pedestrians on the road. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Higher vehicle speeds increase both the likelihood of a pedestrian being struck by a car and the severity of injury.”
  • Impaired driving. If a driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs, the driver’s vision, reflexes and judgment are affected, which can cause the driver to miss seeing a pedestrian or remember what to do when approaching a pedestrian.
  • Weather conditions. Sometimes rain, snow, or ice can affect whether a driver can slow down. If a driver doesn’t use caution and give himself enough time to bring the car to a stop in inclement weather, a pedestrian accident could occur.
  • Age. Many young drivers aren’t thinking about sharing the road with pedestrians. They lack the judgment and experience that more mature drivers have, and, as a result, they fail to see pedestrians or fail to yield to pedestrians. On the other hand, very old drivers sometimes contribute to pedestrian accidents due to their failing eyesight and slower reaction times.

When drivers run red lights, blow through stop signs, make turns against the crossing signal, or fail to yield to pedestrians, they are acting negligently—increasing the chance for a pedestrian accident at an intersection to occur.

When Driver Negligence Is to Blame

Drivers are supposed to look out for pedestrians, yield to pedestrians, obey the laws, and use reasonable care on the road. If they do not, they may be guilty of negligence and injured pedestrians may be able to collect compensation for their injuries and losses. Unfortunately, pedestrian injuries are often very serious and can include brain damage, paralysis, and other types of debilitating injuries.

Although insurance companies may attempt to blame pedestrians for contributing to the crash in order to reduce their liability, pedestrians are often completely innocent of negligence. Pedestrian negligence may include walking impaired, jaywalking, or even distracted walking. If a pedestrian is found negligent, the Virginia negligence law does not allow a pedestrian to collect a financial recovery.

If you believe you were a victim of a driver’s negligence, you may have a right to recover damages for your pain and suffering, injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and more. To talk about your potential legal claim, contact our law firm for a free, no-obligation consultation.