Being struck by a car while walking can lead to serious injuries, even if the car is not driving very fast. Nine out of every 10 passengers die when struck at just 40 miles per hour, and 260 pedestrians in Georgia were killed in 2017, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Because collisions between cars and pedestrians occur so frequently and can be so severe, it is important to take steps to protect yourself when walking. Being attentive, visible and predictable can help you prevent being hit by a car.
There are many potential hazards to avoid as you are walking. To help you react in time to avoid these hazards, you must be attentive to your surroundings. Distractions, like cell phones or music, can prevent you from seeing or hearing traffic and other hazards. Consuming alcohol or drugs before walking can also make you less attentive to your surroundings and should be avoided.
Over 80% of pedestrian fatalities occur at night, when pedestrians may be least visible. In general, it is safest to avoid walking at night when visibility is at its lowest. However, if you must walk at night, wear reflective clothing or use a flashlight to help drivers see you.
Although most pedestrian fatalities happen at night, you can still take steps to help be seen by drivers during the day. Wearing bright clothing can often help pedestrians be seen during the day. Making eye contact with drivers before crossing the street can also help you ensure that the driver sees you.
Behaving predictably can also help you avoid being hit by a car. Predictable pedestrian actions include:
- Walking on the sidewalk when one is available
- Walking facing traffic when a sidewalk is not available
- Obeying traffic signals
- Crossing at crosswalks or intersections
If a crosswalk isn’t available, find a well-lit place where you best see traffic in both directions. Then, look left, right and left again before crossing during an adequate break in traffic.
There are actions you can take to help reduce your chance of being hit by a car. However, many pedestrian crashes are caused by the reckless actions of drivers. If you have been hit by a car while driving, it may be appropriate for you to take legal action. You may be able to receive compensation for your medical expenses and other costs associated with your injuries.