red car speeding past pedestrians crossing street at crosswalk

Pedestrian Accidents Are on the Rise in Colorado

Over the last decade or so, the United States has seen a disturbing rise in pedestrian traffic fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) categorizes all traffic fatalities in the following categories: fatalities in passenger cars (including light trucks), fatalities in large trucks (driver), fatalities in large trucks (passenger), motorcycle fatalities, and pedestrian/bicycle/non-occupant fatalities. According to the NHTSA, from 2008 to 2017, the “proportion of non-occupant fatalities… increased from 14 percent to 19 percent.” That means that, of all traffic fatalities, pedestrians and others not in a vehicle accounted for 19 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2017. The NHTSA continued, “during this same decade, the percentage of passenger car occupant fatalities decreased from 39 percent to 36 percent” and all other categories of traffic fatalities either diminished proportionally or stayed the same.

Basically, as a proportion of all traffic fatalities, pedestrian (non-occupant) fatalities have been on the rise.

We can theorize about some possible causes of this increase in non-occupant fatalities—chief among them may be the proliferation of handheld electronic devices that conspire to consume as much of our attention as they can, which can lead to distracted drivers and pedestrians alike. Another cause of the increase in non-occupant fatalities may include the ever-growing size of a typical car favored by a typical American consumer, who more frequently chooses an SUV or pickup truck over the comparatively smaller sedan or hatchback. Such vehicles typically have a higher hood and flatter front-end, which does not bode well in the event it strikes a human being. Other explanations abound in the far reaches of academia and the internet.

Whatever the reasons for the increase, certain common-sense measures can be taken on an individual basis to minimize the risk of becoming another non-occupant traffic fatality statistic:

  1. When walking on a sidewalk adjacent to a busy street or highway, periodically survey your surroundings and make a mental note of any available “escape routes” should you need to evade an out-of-control car.
  2. If you wear headphones or are speaking on the phone while near traffic, keep the volume to a level such that you can still hear if someone yells at you to alert you of an impending crash, as well as being able to hear car horns and other tip-offs that something is not right;
  3. Phone use should come second to traffic safety, and never look at your phone while walking across the street, even at a designated crosswalk;
  4. Speaking of crosswalks, use them. They are there for a reason and using them in lieu of jaywalking is generally safer;
  5. Assume that you are invisible to motorists and act accordingly. Regardless of where you are walking, do not just assume that motorists will see you and avoid you or stop for you—keep an eye out for any vehicles that do not seem to be slowing down for you and drivers that are not paying attention, and be prepared to stop or even jump out of the way if needed;
  6. Move in a natural, predictable manner and avoid any unexpected movements that could throw off an approaching motorist. This is especially important if you are walking with or against traffic and a vehicle might be turning in front of you to enter a driveway or business.

The above tips are in no way meant to blame individuals who have been struck by an automobile through no fault of their own. Even if everyone followed these basic rules, we might still have a big non-occupant fatality problem. However, in some cases it is within the power of the pedestrian to avoid a potential crash, so we hope you will take some of these tips to heart and exercise some additional caution the next time you are out and about near motor vehicle traffic.

If you or a loved one is hurt in a collision by someone driving a car, truck, or bus, call 720-580-4266 to speak with an experienced accident attorney at Bell & Pollock, P.C. and get a Legal Game Plan set up so you can deal with the insurance companies on your terms.

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