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Pedestrian Accident Statistics

pedestrian accident statistics

When cars collide with pedestrians, there is a high potential for serious injury. Pedestrian/motor vehicle accidents are a serious problem throughout the world. The United States has a particular problem with pedestrian deaths and injuries.

The following represents pedestrian accident statistics for California according to the following resources sources in 2023:

  1. The statistics on pedestrian fatalities in California are from the California Office of Traffic Safety.
  2. The information on the most common times and places for pedestrian accidents to occur is from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  3. The information on the most common causes of pedestrian accidents is from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
  4. The information on the factors that increase the risk of death for pedestrians struck by a car is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  5. The information on the things that can be done to reduce the number of pedestrian accidents is from the National Safety Council.

Generally, pedestrian death rates are higher in urban areas. There is a higher ratio of deaths to injuries in rural areas because of higher impact speeds on rural roads. However, pedestrian accidents occur most frequently in urban areas because pedestrian activity and traffic volumes are more significant than in rural areas.

The National Safety Council estimates that 85.7 percent of all non-fatal pedestrian accidents in the United States occur in urban areas and 14.3 percent in rural areas.

  • Almost two-thirds of all pedestrian fatalities occur on urban roads.
  • In 2005, 72 percent of pedestrian deaths occurred in urban settings.
  • In 2021, there were 958 pedestrian fatalities in California. This is a 6% decrease from the 1,026 pedestrian fatalities in 2020.
  • California has the highest number of pedestrian fatalities of any state in the country.
  • Pedestrians are likelier to be killed in a crash than any other road user.
  • The most common time for pedestrian accidents to occur is at night.
  • The most common place for pedestrian accidents to occur is in urban areas.
  • The most common cause of pedestrian accidents is driver error.
  • Alcohol is a factor in about 25% of pedestrian accidents.
  • Distracted driving is a factor in about 15% of pedestrian accidents.
  • Pedestrians who are struck by a car are more likely to be killed if they are:
    Black or Hispanic
    Walking at night
    Walking in an urban area
    Walking in a crosswalk

Many things can be done to reduce the number of pedestrian accidents. These include:

  • Ensure drivers know the dangers of pedestrian accidents and how to avoid them.
  • Make sure that pedestrians know the dangers of walking and how to stay safe.
  • Improving infrastructure to make it safer for pedestrians to walk, such as installing more crosswalks and sidewalks.
  • Cracking down on drivers who are driving under the influence or who are distracted while driving.
  • If you are involved in a pedestrian accident, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately. You should also contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal options.

Although many pedestrian injuries occur at intersections, most accidents occur at other locations. This is due to higher vehicle speeds and the fact that drivers are not expecting any stops.

  • Over 40 percent of the fatalities in 2002 occurred on roads without crosswalks.
  • In 2003, 65 percent of accidents involving pedestrians occurred at non-intersections.
  • In 2005, 71 percent of pedestrian deaths occurred on major roads, including interstates and freeways.

Statistically, males are more likely to be involved in a pedestrian/motor vehicle accident than females.

  • About 69 percent of pedestrian fatalities are male, and the male pedestrian injury rate is approximately 58 percent higher than for females.
  • In 2005, 70 percent of pedestrian deaths were comprised of males.
  • In 2003, the male pedestrian fatality rate per 100,000 population was 2.27-more than double the rate for females which was 1.01 per 100,000 population.

Most fatal pedestrian/motor vehicle collisions occur on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in later evenings.

  • In 2005, the proportion of pedestrian deaths was much more significant on Friday and Saturday. Also, 45 percent of pedestrian deaths in 2005 occurred between 6 pm and midnight.
  • In 2005, 49 percent of all pedestrian fatalities occurred on Friday (17 percent), Saturday (18 percent), or Sunday (14 percent).
  • In 2005, 24 percent of pedestrian deaths occurred from 6 pm-9 pm, and 21 percent occurred from 9 pm-midnight.

Young children and the elderly are the most vulnerable to pedestrian accident-related injuries. Based on population, children under 16 years are most likely to be struck by motor vehicles.

  • In 2003, nearly one-fifth of all traffic fatalities for victims under 16 were pedestrians.
  • In 2003, pedestrians were almost one-fourth of all traffic fatalities for children between 5 and 9 years old.
  • In 2002, 40 percent of all pedestrians under 16 occurred between 5 and 9 pm.

Elderly pedestrians, although struck less frequently than children, are more likely to die after being struck by a vehicle. This group accounts for 16 percent of all pedestrian fatalities and 6 percent of all pedestrian injuries.

  • In 2005, the rate of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people was about twice as high for people aged 70 and older than for those younger than 70-2.9 per 100,000 population.
  • In 2005, 35 percent of pedestrian deaths among people 70 and older occurred at intersections, compared with 21 percent for those younger than 70.

Speeding is a major contributing factor in motor vehicle accidents of all types and has serious consequences when a pedestrian is involved. At higher speeds, motorists are not as likely to see a pedestrian. At higher speeds, motorists are even less likely to be able to stop in time to avoid hitting a pedestrian.

  • A pedestrian has an 85 percent chance of death when involved in a motor/vehicle collision at 40 mph, a 45 percent chance of death at 30 mph, and a 5 percent chance of death at 20 mph.
  • In 2005, 78 percent of pedestrian deaths in rural areas occurred on roads with speed limits of 40 mph or higher.

When a pedestrian is involved in a motor vehicle accident, they are at risk for countless serious injuries. Pedestrians’ heads, legs, and arms are the most vulnerable in an accident. Often, pedestrians endure extreme bodily injuries such as:

The front of a passenger vehicle strikes most pedestrians. The initial contacts are with the vehicle bumper and/or the front edge of the hood, depending on the shape of the vehicle structure. When pedestrians are struck by taller vehicles such as SUVs or pickup trucks, the initial contacts are higher on the body.

In an NHTSA pedestrian accident study, 40 percent of pedestrian injuries resulted from contact with the vehicle, 32 percent from contact with the ground, and 26 percent from contact with unknown objects.

  • For a young child, the bumper will strike the thigh, and the front edge of the hood will strike the torso.
  • For an adult male, the bumper will strike the knee area, and the front edge of the hood will strike the thigh.

Numerous common factors contribute to pedestrian accidents. Negligence is one of the most common factors. Motorists are responsible for adhering to the laws of the road and driving safely and observably at all times. Pedestrians are killed every day due to a driver’s negligence.

Some common negligent practices by motorists include:

  • Inattentive or preoccupied drivers are potentially very dangerous for pedestrians.
  • A driver’s failure to observe posted speed limits can add to the severity of a pedestrian/motor vehicle accident.
  • A driver’s failure to yield the right of way to pedestrians at marked crosswalks can increase the chance of being involved in a pedestrian/motor vehicle accident.
  • A driver’s disregard for traffic control devices can also increase the chance of being involved in a motor/vehicle accident.

Many things can be done to reduce pedestrian collisions:

Improving the design and materials of roadways and implementing educational and community programs have great potential. Some of the essential categories of engineering changes that can be made to roadways include the separation of pedestrians from vehicles by time or space, measures that increase pedestrians’ visibility and conspicuity, and reducing vehicle speeds.

Separation countermeasures reduce the exposure of pedestrians to potential harm on the roadside and when crossing the street. Some effective separation countermeasures include:

  • Sidewalks
  • Overpasses
  • Underpasses
  • Refuge islands in the medians of busy two-way streets

Increased illumination and improved signal timing at intersections can effectively increase the visibility and conspicuity of pedestrians. Some measures to increase the visibility and conspicuity of pedestrians include:

  • Increased intensity of roadway lighting
  • Diagonal parking
  • Relocation of bus stops at traffic signals from the near to the far side of the intersection

Because traffic speeds affect the risk and severity of pedestrian accidents, reducing speeds can reduce pedestrian deaths. Some effective engineering measures to reduce vehicle speeds in urban areas include:

  • Construction of modern roundabouts in place of stop signs and traffic signals
  • Traffic calming devices such as speed humps
  • Multiway stop signs

Educational and community-based programs could significantly reduce the number of pedestrian collisions. Educational messages instructing children about street crossings could mainly reduce neighborhood accidents involving children darting into the street.

Community-based programs could contribute by building and refurbishing playgrounds in urban areas to reduce the number of children playing in the streets. Establishing supervised recreation programs would also reduce the number of children playing in the streets.

Long-term data shows a declining trend in pedestrian/motor vehicle collisions. Since 1975, pedestrian deaths have declined from 17 percent to 11 percent in 2005. The pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people decreased from 3.5 in 1975 to 1.6 in 2005.

Even though the annual number of pedestrian accidents is slowly decreasing, the fact remains that there are 69,000 pedestrian accidents annually. Young children and the elderly have always held the highest risks of pedestrian death and injury. Change and progress must be a priority for as long as it takes to eliminate pedestrian collisions.

Pedestrian accident stats for the United States

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), there were an estimated 7,485 pedestrian deaths in the United States in 2021. This is the highest number of pedestrian deaths since 1982 and an increase of 12% from 2020. The fatality rate per 100,000 people also increased, rising to 2.26 in 2021 from 2.02 the year before.

The GHSA attributes the increase in pedestrian deaths to a number of factors, including:

  • Increased traffic volumes: The number of miles driven in the United States has increased steadily in recent years, leading to more opportunities for crashes.
  • Distracted driving: Drivers increasingly use their phones and other electronic devices while driving, which can take their attention away from the road and lead to crashes.
  • Impaired driving: Alcohol and drug impairment are factors in a significant number of pedestrian crashes.
  • Poor infrastructure: Many roads in the United States are not designed to be safe for pedestrians, with narrow sidewalks, poor lighting, and limited crossing points.

The GHSA is working with state and local governments to implement a number of strategies to reduce pedestrian deaths, including:

  • Increasing enforcement of distracted driving laws
  • Educating drivers about the dangers of impaired driving
  • Improving infrastructure to make it safer for pedestrians
  • Working with communities to develop safe routes for walking and biking

Pedestrians can also take steps to protect themselves, including:

  • Walking facing traffic
  • Using crosswalks and marked intersections
  • Wearing bright clothing and reflective gear at night
  • Being aware of their surroundings and making eye contact with drivers
  • If you are involved in a pedestrian crash, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately, even if you do not think you are injured.
  • You should also report the crash to the police and contact your insurance company.

Call Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys or another experienced law firm to begin protecting your rights and advising you right away.

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