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Pedestrian pitfalls: Why are there so many pedestrian accidents?

Pedestrians have a right to be on and around the roadways, just like drivers do, so long as they follow the laws designed to keep them safe. Unfortunately, between distracted drivers and pedestrians who don't know the laws, there are many crashes that happen ever day.

Around 5,000 pedestrians die each year as a result of motor-vehicle-related accidents, but these deaths don't have to happen. By being aware of the reasons for these crashes, it's possible to reduce and eliminate the risks.

For example, Virginia Code Section 46.2-924(A) states that vehicles shall yield to pedestrians at:

1. At any clearly marked crosswalk, whether at mid-block or at the end of any block;

2. At any regular pedestrian crossing included in the prolongation of the lateral boundary lines of the adjacent sidewalk at the end of a block;

3. At any intersection when the driver is approaching on a highway or street where the legal maximum speed does not exceed 35 miles per hour.

Familiarize yourself with these basic rules and avoid accidents.

What are the factors that lead to pedestrian accidents?

There are several factors that play a role in pedestrian accidents, but the primary factors include drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians' right of way, disregarding weather or traffic conditions, driving while intoxicated or impaired, failing to signal, speeding, and distracted driving. Disobeying traffic signals and signs is another reason for many crashes.

Driver negligence is just one side of the problem, though. Pedestrians may also end up causing crashes by entering traffic unexpectedly, disobeying traffic signals or not paying attention.

Do drivers have a higher responsibility for the safety of children?

Yes. Drivers do owe a special duty of care to children. Everyone is aware that children do not always make good decisions. They may not consider their surroundings, for example, when running into the road to get a ball or toy. They may not think about traffic when wanting to cross the street to get to school. Drivers who know children are in an area need to slow down and take their time, so they can stop if a child enters the roadway unexpectedly.

Pedestrians do need to be cautious, too

Like drivers, pedestrians owe a duty of care as well. They need to be cautious when they're entering roadways and to cross as quickly as possible. Pedestrians who run out into traffic or who disobey traffic signals can't expect others to be able to stop for them. The reality is that pedestrians and drivers need to work together to be safe, follow traffic signals and avoid distractions. It's only by doing this that individuals are going to be able to prevent serious crashes that could result in a fatal collision or life-changing event.

No matter who you are, it's your responsibility to keep everyone safe around you. Be cautious whether you're driving or walking to where you need to go, so you can help prevent crashes.

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