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IL accident lawyerWalking is considered a great form of exercise for the cardiovascular system. Many people also commute by foot on a daily basis, whether going to school or their job if they live close enough. Pedestrians often walk in all kinds of weather: sunshine, snow, rain, fog, and sleet. The air temperature and outside conditions can affect the roadways and sidewalks, causing them to become icy and slippery, especially in an Illinois winter. This can impact both drivers and pedestrians alike. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2018, there were 6,283 pedestrian deaths caused by traffic collisions. Weather-related factors may be a contributing factor to pedestrian accidents, but there are also other reasons, such as distracted driving. Because pedestrians do not have the same type of protection as someone in a vehicle, their injuries are often catastrophic or fatal.

Factors That Can Lead to Pedestrian Injuries

The rules of the road are put in place for everyone’s safety. When these regulations are not followed, drivers and pedestrians can be at significant risk of injuries. Although Illinois is known for having more extreme weather compared to other states, some of the following apply to any state, directly leading to a pedestrian accident with serious injuries:

  • Distracted driving: Texting, talking to passengers, applying makeup, and eating are all examples of activities that take a driver’s attention away from the road ahead of him or her. Looking away even for a few seconds can cause a motorist to swerve onto a sidewalk, striking a pedestrian.
  • Speeding: Speed limits are enforced for a reason. Also referred to as reckless driving, traveling at a high rate of speed does not allow a driver enough time to come to a complete stop if a pedestrian suddenly appears in a crosswalk.
  • Intoxicated driving: Regardless if it is due to alcohol or drug use, studies show that impaired drivers’ reaction times are greatly reduced, as well as their reasoning skills and ability to make accurate judgment calls behind the wheel.
  • Failure to stop or yield: In many cases, pedestrians have the right of way and if a driver does not stop or yield before turning onto a street, he or she may hit a person in the designated crosswalk.
  • Inclement weather: Fog, blowing snow, freezing rain can all make it hard for a motorist to see, especially at night. Drivers must account for slick pavement so they do not lose control of their vehicles and collide with another car or pedestrian.
  • Left-hand turns: Drivers who are turning left at a busy intersection may only be focused straight ahead at the oncoming cars and not notice bystanders who are trying to cross the road.
  • Backing-up accidents: A common occurrence in parking lots, many drivers may not check their rearview mirror or back-up camera and accidentally hit a person walking by.

It is important to note that Illinois, along with several other states, follows the “modified comparative fault” rule regarding personal injury claims. Under this rule, a pedestrian who is considered to be more than 50 percent responsible for causing his or her own injuries is not allowed to recover any damages from a negligent or reckless driver.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_pedestrian.jpgSome people may think walking is a safe way of getting to and from places. However, a pedestrian traveling down the street or in a designated crosswalk can be at risk of being struck by a vehicle, motorcycle, or even a bicycle. The sheer force of the impact in any type of pedestrian accident can result in serious injuries or possibly death. The majority of pedestrian deaths take place on local streets at night, suggesting the need for safer road crossings, signage, lighting, in addition to distracted driving prevention measures. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, nighttime collisions made up more than 90 percent of the total increase in pedestrian fatalities in the last 10 years.

Types of Pedestrian Injuries

Pedestrian accidents can occur when someone is going for a run, taking a stroll, or simply standing on a sidewalk. Regardless if a pedestrian is struck by an automobile, motorcycle, bus or truck, injuries suffered are likely to be much more severe than if the person was a passenger in a car. For a pedestrian, there is no protection between the body and the vehicle to soften the blow. In some cases, a victim may need surgery, extensive rehabilitation, or even amputation. A person is often unable to return to work because of chronic pain or brain damage, which results in hardship due to lost wages. The most common types of injuries a pedestrian can suffer after being struck by any type of vehicle or cycle include:

  • Broken or fractured bones
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Neck injuries resulting in whiplash or fractured vertebrae
  • Back/spinal cord damage or paralysis
  • Internal bleeding
  • Damage to joints, shoulders, or knees

Causes of Pedestrian Injuries

The risk of a pedestrian accident is heightened at night compared to daytime. The increase in nighttime pedestrian fatalities may be attributed to poor street lighting or a lack of traffic enforcement patrols. There are many dangerous driving behaviors, such as speeding or distracted/impaired driving that can also put pedestrians in harm’s way.

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IL accident lawyerPedestrian accidents are not uncommon in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2016, around 193,366 pedestrians were injured in motor vehicle accidents and an estimated 5,987 pedestrians were killed in accidents. Pedestrian safety is especially important because at some point every day, we are all pedestrians. Compared to a vehicle, pedestrians are small and fragile, which is why extreme caution should be taken by drivers when they are around pedestrians, but pedestrians also have a responsibility to be safe and limit the possibility of an accident happening. By following these tips, both drivers and pedestrians can do their part to stay safe.

Driver Tips

  • Always look out for pedestrians. Even if there is not a sidewalk, there may still be pedestrians walking on the side of the road.
  • Be careful when driving at night or in bad weather. Pedestrians can seem to come out of nowhere and that is especially true when hard-to-see conditions are present. Do not speed in these conditions and always follow the rules of the road.
  • You should expect pedestrians to be in a crosswalk and by law, you are required to yield to pedestrians who are using a crosswalk. Give yourself enough space between your vehicle and the pedestrian so other vehicles can see the pedestrian, too. Never pass other vehicles at a crosswalk - they are probably stopped for a reason and you could cause an accident.
  • When you are in school zones or residential neighborhoods, drive slowly and cautiously. Children can jump in front of you in the blink of an eye - always follow the speed limit and go slower if need be.

Pedestrian Tips

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IL accident lawyerEveryone is a pedestrian at some point during the day--whenever you are not in your vehicle, you are a pedestrian. Unfortunately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported that pedestrian accidents and fatalities have been rising since 2009--one of the few groups to see an increase in fatalities. In 2016, there were nearly 6,000 pedestrian fatalities, the highest number of pedestrian fatalities in one year since 1990. In Illinois alone, pedestrians accounted for nearly 14 percent of traffic fatalities. Everyone is at risk for getting into an accident as a pedestrian and these accidents can cause serious and severe injuries, if not death. It is important to understand how you can do your part - as a driver and as a pedestrian--to keep yourself and others safe.

Risk Factors For Pedestrian Accidents

Fortunately, there are trends in who is involved in traffic accidents, the environment they take place in and when they take place. Trends like these are used to make decisions on how pedestrian accidents and fatalities are addressed.

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