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Speeds and the Odds of Survival: Pedestrian Accidents

  • Published: January 17, 2012

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a pedestrian dies in a motor vehicle accident in the United States about every 90 minutes. Such accidents might occur on a public roadway or on private property like in a shopping center parking lot when a driver is backing out of a parking space.

Some Pedestrian Fatality Statistics

As per the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), 6,075 pedestrians died in accidents on public roadways in the nation in 2018. The Governors Highway Safety Association put that number at 6,227. The NHTSA found that in 2018, 78% of all pedestrian traffic deaths occurred in urban areas, and 25% of them took place in intersections. Nearly 75% of all pedestrian accident fatalities occurred on open roadways, while 76% occurred after sundown and before dawn.

Some Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrians get hit by motor vehicles for a wide variety of reasons. Here are a few of the common reasons why:

  • Distracted Driving: Drivers just don’t seem to see pedestrians when they’re talking on a cell phone, texting or otherwise using a mobile device.
  • Unmarked Crosswalks: Conspicuously marked and defined crosswalks drastically reduce the likelihood of a pedestrian being hit by a motor vehicle.
  • Drivers Turning Left: When a pedestrian is in an intersection, he or she is typically looking to the right while the driver making a left turn is looking in another direction.
  • Drivers Disobeying Red Lights or Stop Signs: Even rolling stops can cause severe or fatal injuries to a pedestrian.
  • Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, Drugs or Both: The judgment, depth perception and awareness of the surroundings of both drivers and pedestrians has proven to be compromised by alcohol, drugs or any combination of the two.
  • Pedestrians Wearing Dark Clothing: Even when drivers are sober and not using a cell phone, they’re less likely to see a pedestrian on the roadway who is wearing dark clothing.

Speeds and Survival

The higher the speed that a passenger vehicle is traveling at, the higher the likelihood that severe pedestrian injuries or fatalities will result.  The AAA Traffic Foundation reports that a pedestrian who is struck by a motorist who is traveling at 20 mph has a 93% chance of survival. At 30 mph, the likelihood of surviving is reduced to about 80%, but at 35 mph, the pedestrian stands about a 50/50 chance of survival. At 40 mph, a pedestrian has a mere 10 percent chance of living through being struck by a car. Take notice that the older that the pedestrian is, the more the chances of survival diminish.

Injuries Suffered by Those Who Survive

Even with low speed impacts, pedestrian victims will hit the pavement beneath them hard. The only crumple zones that they have are their joints and bones. Surviving victims of pedestrian-automobile accidents are at high risk for the following types of injuries:

  • Traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries.
  • Arm, wrist, hand, hip and leg fractures.
  • Cartilage and ligament tears.
  • Damage to vital organs.
  • Road rash with infection.

If you were the victim of a pedestrian accident, or if you lost a family member in one, don’t give the opposing insurer a statement of any kind. The law doesn’t require you to help the responsible party set up their defense, and your own words will probably be used against you in the future. Even if you or your family member were the pedestrian victim of a hit-and-run or an uninsured driver, contact an experienced, dedicated and effective personal injury lawyer right away. You can arrange for a free consultation and case evaluation.  Your questions will be answered, and you’ll be advised of all of your legal options.