The Vartazarian Law Firm

How can California pedestrians stay safe?

With our year-round warm temperatures and abundance of sun, southern California is the ideal destination for pedestrians. Unfortunately, walking to the store or your favorite coffee shop may not be as safe as you expect.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), California has the highest incidence of cars hitting and killing pedestrians in the nation. How can you stay safe as you walk throughout your day?

Risk factors

In order to stay safe, you need to understand what factors increase your chances of being involved in an accident. Some of the key risk factors are:

  • Location: 76 percent of pedestrian fatalities take place in an urban environment. Busy cities and towns are more dangerous for pedestrians due to their increase in traffic. There are more pedestrians and drivers sharing the road, and more external stimuli to distract drivers.
  • Time of day: Only 23 percent of fatal pedestrian accidents took place during the day. Drivers have a hard time seeing in dim light, making dawn, dusk and night especially dangerous for pedestrians. Even with their headlights on, drivers may not be able to see a pedestrian until it is too late to react.
  • Alcohol use: Alcohol was involved in almost half of all fatal pedestrian accidents. Alcohol increases the risk of accident when either the driver or the pedestrian drinks. Alcohol lowers a person’s decision making abilities and reaction time, making them especially susceptible to accident. Additionally, alcohol is typically consumed in the evening or at night, pairing poor decision making with conditions of low visibility.
  • Gender: 70 percent of pedestrians killed by cars were men. The fatality rate is over double that of women. Men 80 years of age and older have the highest risk of pedestrian fatality.

Pedestrian safety tips

Walking is an enjoyable form of exercise. To remain safe while you are out walking, incorporate these safety tips into your routine.

  • Limit distractions: Keep an eye on traffic at all times. Do not wear headphones that block out car noise, text while near traffic or become overly engrossed in a call that would keep you from noticing dangerous drivers.
  • Make yourself visible: Make sure that vehicles can see you by wearing bright colors and reflective materials. If you do not have reflective clothing, you can also make yourself visible by carrying a flashlight at night. Do not walk in areas that cars will not expect to see you, and only cross the road at crosswalks.
  • Face oncoming traffic: Pedestrians are at risk of being hit by a distracted driver. Combat this by walking towards oncoming traffic. This gives you an opportunity to see if the driver is paying attention, or if you need to quickly move out of the way of the car.
  • Avoid walking in the street. When possible, keep on the sidewalk at all times. Only walk in the road if you have no other options, and there are no alternative routes. It is better to walk out of your way to find a pedestrian-friendly sidewalk than to test your luck on a busy road.

If you or a loved one is hit by a vehicle, contact an attorney who can evaluate your case for driver negligence and help you gain the compensation that you deserve.

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