The number of pedestrians killed by motor vehicles has reached an all-time high. According to a Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) report, an estimated 6,227 pedestrians were killed last year. That’s an increase of 250 from 2017 and the highest number in nearly 30 years.
The study, which involved an analysis of data collected from highway safety offices throughout the country, projects that pedestrian fatalities have increased 51.5% since a low of 4,109 in 2009. Pedestrian fatalities now make up 16% of all deaths on the roadways. That figure is up 4% from 10 years ago.
Why Are Pedestrian Deaths Rising?
Experts say two main trends have contributed to a surge in pedestrian deaths:
- Distracted driving and distracted pedestrians
- The increasing popularity of larger vehicles, such as SUVs, pickup trucks, and crossovers
The GHSA report noted that smartphones are a potential cause of pedestrian fatality increase, as both motorists and pedestrians are using them and at an increasing rate.
Who Is Liable for a Pedestrian Accident?
Pedestrian accident cases generally depend on the “duty of care” owed by those involved. Duty of care is the requirement that one acts toward others with the attention, watchfulness, and caution that a reasonable person in the circumstance would use. Under California law, both drivers and pedestrians must follow the rules of the road at all times.
As the GHSA report indicates, we are seeing more incidents of pedestrian accidents where a pedestrian is struck by a motor vehicle. Someone who negligently operates a vehicle and causes injury to a pedestrian may be held liable and likely will be required to pay damages caused by that negligence.
In some cases, both the pedestrian and driver are at fault. Under California’s comparative fault law, you may still recover damages as a pedestrian if you were partly at fault for the accident. If more than one party shares in the fault for an accident, the jury can divide up the fault and compensatory damages, meaning an injured pedestrian could have their damages reduced based on their own level of fault.
How to Avoid Pedestrian Accidents
Below are four tips for pedestrians and four tips for drivers for avoiding pedestrian accidents.
- Use sidewalks when they are available.
- Stay alert. Don’t get distracted by a smartphone or other electronic device.
- Never assume a motorist sees you. As a vehicle approaches you, make eye contact with the driver so you know they see you.
- Don’t jaywalk. Cross streets at crosswalks whenever possible.
- Be on the lookout for pedestrians at all times.
- When approaching a crosswalk, slow down and be prepared to stop.
- Go the speed limit, especially when pedestrians are on the street.
- Always yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and stop far enough back that you give other drivers the chance to see the crossing pedestrians.
For more safety tips, see the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website.
How Can Demas Law Group Help Me?
If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident in California, you may be entitled to compensation. At Demas Law Group, P.C., our experienced Sacramento pedestrian accident attorneys have helped thousands of people recover the maximum compensation they deserve after serious accidents.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation about your legal options.