Pedestrians are at a high risk of injury or death if they are involved in a collision. Even at slower speeds, a crash can cause internal and external injuries that are difficult to recover from.
At certain speeds, there are some injuries that are more likely. For example, at 16 mph, a pedestrian has a 10% risk of a severe injuries. At 58 mph, there is a 90% chance of severe injuries. Age also plays a role, and those who are 70 have the same average risk of severe injury or death at 25 mph as a 30-year-old person would at 35 mph.
As a pedestrian, this information is important. Knowing that speed plays a role in the force you are struck with, you can make the choice to cross streets with lower speed limits, for example.
The type of vehicle that strikes you plays a role in injury
Besides speed, the risk of injury is higher when a pedestrian is hit by a light truck. The average risk of death a pedestrian faces when struck by a light truck is around the same as being struck by a car traveling around 4 mph faster.
A small change in speed makes a big difference
What’s most interesting about speed is that just a small positive change in speed greatly increases the risk of injury or death. At 15 mph, the risk of severe injury is under 10%, and the risk of death is under 5%. However, at 25 mph, the risk of severe injury jumps to 30%. The risk of death increases to 12%.
By the time a vehicle is traveling at 45 mph, the risk of a severe injury is 89%, and the risk of death is 60%.
How can pedestrians avoid serious injuries or deaths in crashes?
One of the most important things for people to do is to avoid high-speed roadways. If pedestrians can avoid being struck on highways or other fast roadways, then they are more likely to survive and suffer fewer injuries. Locally, you may notice physical barriers, foot bridges and sidewalks along quicker roadways, which are an indication that being near traffic is dangerous due to the speeds at which the vehicles are traveling.
Pedestrians can be hit and injured at any speed, but the slower a vehicle travels the safer the pedestrian will be. Drivers can reduce risk by obeying traffic laws and following speed limits.