Pedestrians have the right of way when it comes to crosswalks – particularly if there is a pedestrian crossing light. Crosswalks, after all, were introduced to provide a safe space on the road where pedestrians can cross. However, as a pedestrian, you are at risk even when using a crosswalk and should always take precautions. Don’t just assume you will be safe.
Factors That Contribute to Crosswalk Accidents
Crosswalk accidents are quite common despite laws designed to make them safe zones for pedestrians. Pedestrian injuries have become even more common with the ubiquity of the smartphone and the common practice of texting while driving. Unfortunately, when there is a collision involving a pedestrian in a crosswalk, the pedestrian often ends up with serious injuries, if they make it out alive.
Various factors contribute to accidents in crosswalks. These include:
- High speed limits: Some jurisdictions still have speed limits of 40 miles and over in urban areas. The chance of an accident involving a pedestrian increases with higher speed limits. Moreover, a high speed collision with a pedestrian is much more likely to result in serious injuries. In fact, a pedestrian struck at this high speed is 80% likely to die from their injuries. Some cities have lowered their speed limits to 25 miles per hour to protect their pedestrians.
- Low visibility: Conditions of low visibility such as poor weather conditions and driving at night increase the chances of collisions occurring at crosswalks. It’s important for local authorities to ensure that crosswalks are well-lit to reduce the occurrence of these accidents.
- Drugs and alcohol: Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol increases the likelihood of a pedestrian accident. A good majority of pedestrians killed on crosswalks are hit by drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Distracted walking and driving: Accidents occurring as a result of distracted walking or driving are increasing. This is not surprising as reliance on mobile devices for various activities increases.
- Poor design: The rapid growth of cities has resulted in poor street design in some places. Poor infrastructure in addition to fast moving vehicles increases the dangers to pedestrians.
Both Drivers and Pedestrians are Responsible for Safety
Just because pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks doesn’t mean that they do not share responsibility for safety with drivers. The right of way rules apply to both drivers and pedestrians.
- Drivers are required to stop when they reach a crosswalk that has signage that indicates that they should stop. They should remain stopped when a pedestrian steps into the crosswalk or is already in the crosswalk.
- Pedestrians should refrain from using electronic devices when they leave a curb, walk into a crosswalk or the path of a vehicle.
- Obviously, pedestrians should also refrain from suddenly walking or running into the path of a vehicle which is too close for the driver to yield.