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Pedestrian accidents: When it's not just a walk in the park

With the warm weather that accompanies spring in New Orleans, more and more people will be spending time out of doors. Along with time spent walking outside, though, comes the increased risk of car accidents involving pedestrians. Motor vehicle accidents injure approximately 70,000 pedestrians every year, and of those, over 4,000 involve fatalities.

The frightening part is the disproportionate number of deaths that occur when pedestrians are involved. While pedestrians account for only 11 percent of travel, they make up 13 percent of vehicle-related fatalities. Clearly, the streets of New Orleans can be a dangerous place for pedestrians. What are the main causes of pedestrian accidents, and is there anything you can do to protect yourself and avoid becoming a statistic?

What are some of the main factors in pedestrian accidents?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, some of the culprits in pedestrian accidents include:

  • Alcohol: statistics indicate that 37% of injured pedestrians in fatal pedestrian accidents had been drinking, and 13 percent of pedestrian accidents involved intoxicated drivers
  • Electronics use: cell phones aren't just dangerous when the driver is using them; they can be distracting for the pedestrian as well
  • Arterial roads: a majority of pedestrian accidents occur in urban areas with densely populated roadways
  • Unmarked crosswalks: signaled or clearly marked paths for pedestrians to cross busy streets drastically reduces the risk of accident
  • Left-hand turns: left-turning cars hit three times as many pedestrians as those turning right because both the driver and the walker are focused on the other, seemingly more dangerous, areas
  • Dark clothing: almost three-fourths of pedestrian accidents happen at night, and dark clothes can be difficult to see

Tips for safety

While drivers are legally responsible for keeping control of their vehicles at all times, there are a few things you can do that may help reduce your risk:

  • When possible, try to avoid walking alone if you've been drinking and your reflexes are dull; take a taxi or call a sober friend to pick you up or walk with you
  • Carry a flashlight and wear brightly colored or reflective clothing when walking at night
  • Always use sidewalks when they are available, and face oncoming traffic if you're forced to walk along the side of the road
  • Be alert; avoid using your cell phone when possible so that you can keep a defensive eye on cars

Pedestrians can only do so much to protect themselves

No matter how many precautions you take, you cannot always prevent an accident if the driver is not being careful or is driving while intoxicated. If a distracted or negligent driver hits you or a loved one, the resulting injuries may be severe, if not fatal. An experienced New Orleans personal injury attorney can offer counsel on how best to seek justice and compensation to help cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

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