You slide behind the wheel of your vehicle. You start the engine and pull out of the driveway. Your awareness for other vehicles is high, and that awareness continues as you drive down the road. Are you as aware of the possibility of a pedestrian darting into the road?
If you are like many drivers, you watch for other vehicles, but you don’t keep as close an eye out for pedestrians. Sure, you slow down at crosswalks, and you give pedestrians the right of way when they are in one, but do you watch for little ones riding their bikes? Do you see the person walking dangerously close to the curb?
According to statistics, a pedestrian is injured in a car versus pedestrian accident every 7 minutes. Using the same statistics, a pedestrian is killed by a vehicle every two hours. Pedestrian accidents are more common at night, but they can occur at any time of day. Here are some tips for sharing the road safely.
Know what is happening around your vehicle. This includes not only what is in front of you, but what is behind you and to the sides as well. Pedestrians don’t always act predictably. Instead of assuming that person you see on the sidewalk is going to stay put, assume that they are going to dart into the road and act accordingly.
Kids and bikes are a frequent sight in the warm weather months. No matter how many rules parents have laid down, little ones will still do what they will do. It can be especially difficult to see children when there are vehicles parked along the street in a residential area. Keep your windows rolled down, at least partly, so you can hear little ones at play. Slow your speed and be especially cautious around parked vehicles.
Even if you see the pedestrian walking along the side of the road, there is no guarantee that they see you. If you are going to proceed through a turn or an intersection and see a pedestrian on the corner waiting to cross, make eye contact before assuming that they are aware of your presence.
It is far easier to give a pedestrian the right of way than to live with the knowledge that your actions injured someone. Wave a pedestrian ahead of you if it is safe to do so. If you see a person waiting to cross the street at a marked walk, stop your vehicle and let them pass by. Pedestrians, by law, have the right of way if they are in a marked crosswalk. Keep that in mind as you are driving.
College towns are notorious for pedestrians. If you live near one or will be driving through one, keep that fact in mind. College students feel at home on campus and don’t always proceed with safety in mind. They are also in a hurry to get to class, causing them to make poor decisions when it comes to safety.
Proceed with caution when your view is obstructed. Construction sites, dumpsters and even signage can all make it difficult to see more than a few feet in front of you, particularly on corners and curves. If your view is obstructed by an object or even because of inclement weather, drive more cautiously.
One of the safest things you can do is something you do everyday — follow the rules of the road. If you aren’t sure when a pedestrian has the right away or when you have to yield at a crosswalk, give yourself a refresher course by reading up online. Stay within a safe speed limit, use your turn signal and maintain your lane of travel. It may not seem like you are doing anything out of the ordinary, but your normal safe driving habits can benefit everyone.
Many pedestrian versus vehicle accidents can be avoided, either by the driver of the vehicle or the pedestrian. It is everyone’s responsibility to make sure that people sharing the road are kept safe. As a driver, don’t assume that a pedestrian will behave in a way that you expect. It’s the old adage — expect the unexpected — that will save you heartache and possibly a lawsuit.
If you are injured by a vehicle in West Palm Beach or the surrounding area, you may have legal grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. Reach out to our team of experienced personal injury attorneys to learn more about your options at no cost to you. We will review the details of your accident at your free consultation and assist you in making the best decisions for your unique situation. Call today to schedule your appointment and begin putting the pieces of your life back together.