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Are Pedestrian Knockdown Accidents Avoidable?

Are Pedestrian Knockdown Accidents Avoidable?

Traffic fatalities in general have been slowly dropping over the years, but the number of pedestrians killed by cars has been increasing. In 2012, 4,743 pedestrians were struck and killed by cars. It’s unclear why the number of pedestrians killed by cars has been increasing, but it is possible that campaigns encouraging people to get out and walk may be partly to blame. More people out walking means there are more pedestrians available to be hit.

In the past, most efforts to reduce pedestrian-car collisions revolved around encouraging people to be careful when walking. Look both ways before crossing the road, wear visible clothing at night, and so forth. Drivers were urged to be aware of pedestrians and to yield to them at crosswalks. However, these measures didn’t seem to be very effective.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a massive study of all pedestrians and bicycles hit by cars from 1969 through 2007. This study found that practically all pedestrian-car collisions appeared to be, ultimately, caused by the pedestrian being blocked from the driver’s view until it was too late for the driver to react and avoid the pedestrian.

Many car-pedestrian collisions occurred after a pedestrian suddenly darted out into the roadway from between two parked cars. The parked cars blocked the driver of the car’s view of the pedestrian until the pedestrian was suddenly in the roadway, right in front of the car. Presumably the parked cars also blocked the pedestrian’s view of the oncoming car.

Lecturing pedestrians about changing their behavior in regards to road crossing was not found to be anywhere near as effective as making physical changes to roads. One simple way to discourage pedestrians from moving into the road from between parked cars is to install parking blocks. Although a pedestrian can easily step over a parking block, apparently the mere fact that there is a visible barrier to moving from the sidewalk into the roadway is sufficient to encourage most pedestrians to continue to the corner or nearest crosswalk before attempting to cross the road.

Changing roadside parking from parallel to angled (30 to 45 degrees) was also found to be effective in discouraging pedestrians from entering the road from between parked cars. Why angling the cars would deter pedestrians is not quite clear, but it appears to be the case. Perhaps having to walk around the angled cars seems to be more difficult than just stepping between parallel-parked cars. However, angled parking takes up a lot of space and most city streets cannot accommodate it. Parking blocks can be installed anywhere.

Street design appears to be intimately involved in many, or possibly most, pedestrian knockdown accidents. Most cities are reluctant to take even the simplest steps to improve streets. Sometimes the only way to force cities to take action to save pedestrians is through the law. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a pedestrian knockdown accident, lawyers might be the only way to prevent others from suffering the same fate.

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