Why Are So Many Pedestrians Getting Hit? [infographic]

A variety of factors contribute to the large number of pedestrian deaths that occur each year in the United States. While distracted drivers, impaired motorists, and risky driving behaviors cause a large number of fatalities, the actions of pedestrians themselves also cause deadly accidents. A review of the risk factors might help people understand why so many pedestrians are getting hit.

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Accidents involving pedestrians

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Pedestrian Accidents by the Numbers

According to the CDC, 2015 saw 5,376 pedestrians who suffered fatalities. That adds up to one pedestrian death from a vehicle crash every 90 minutes. An additional 129,000 pedestrians were seen in emergency rooms after crashes. Pedestrians who are involved in motor vehicle crashes are 1.5 times more likely to be killed than people who are inside a vehicle.

Age Matters in Pedestrian Accidents

Children and senior citizens are at the highest risk of becoming involved in car accidents involving pedestrians. Those age 65 and older were responsible for 19 percent of all pedestrian deaths in 2015. One out of every five kids who are killed in car crashes were pedestrians.

Why Accidents Happen

Alcohol is also a risk factor. About 48 percent of the crashes that killed a pedestrian involved alcohol for either the driver or the pedestrian. While alcohol plays a role in the number of accidents involving pedestrians, it is just one factor. Many accidents occur because pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers are not using the proper lanes. A cyclist, for instance, using the sidewalk instead of the bike lane can push a pedestrian into the road and into danger.

The risk for pedestrian deaths also increases at intersections. Pedestrians crossing where no crosswalk exists or where crosswalks are not clearly labeled, and motorists speeding through intersections cause a large number of pedestrian deaths.

Around 70 percent of all pedestrian accidents happen at night. Dark clothing, which makes the individual harder to see, is a contributing factor. Pedestrians who walk at night should wear light, reflective clothing and carry lights so they are easily seen.

Smartphone use is another risk factor that increases the chance of pedestrian deaths. Distracted driving while using a cellphone can raise the risk, but texting while walking is also dangerous and can cause a pedestrian to get hit.

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