When it comes to pedestrian safety, a grim portrait has emerged. The pedestrian fatality rate in the U.S. hit a new record last year. There’s been a steady upward trend of traffic deaths over the past two years, alarming traffic safety officials.
According to a study by the Governor’s Highway Safety Administration (GHSA), 2021 saw U.S. pedestrian fatalities reach their highest level “in a single year in four decades.” There were 2,957 U.S. pedestrian deaths in the first half of 2021, which was an increase of 17 percent nationwide compared with the same time in 2020.
Sadly, the statistics for Louisiana weren’t any better. In 2021, 185 pedestrians died in Louisiana accidents, which was almost 20 percent higher than the 2020 totals. More pedestrians died in 2021 than any other year over the last decade.
Given the undeniable increase in deaths, the question is what’s causing this uptick in accidents?
Why Are Pedestrian Accidents Happening More Often?
The GHSA says pedestrian fatalities have increased for a number of reasons, including speeding, reckless driving, lack of lighting, and not enough sidewalks. Consider these statistics:
- Speeding alone contributed to almost 9 percent of all fatalities in 2021.
- Drunk drivers caused an estimated 46 percent of all pedestrian accidents nationwide.
- Roughly 75 percent of all accidents occur at night when it’s harder to see people crossing the street.
- About 67 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur on streets where there is no sidewalk.
What Louisiana Laws Say About Pedestrian Safety
Because reckless driving occurs in so many accidents involving pedestrians, it’s important to hold negligent drivers accountable. Here’s what the laws say about pedestrian safety in Louisiana:
When pedestrians have the right-of-way: As long as pedestrians obey traffic lights and other signals, they always have the right-of-way in marked crosswalks. Even when there are no traffic lights or crosswalk signals (or if they aren’t functioning), drivers should yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.
Individuals with a visual impairment walking with a white cane or guide dog and young children have the right-of-way at all times.
When pedestrians should yield to other drivers: If there is no crosswalk, pedestrians must yield to drivers and cross when it’s safe to do so. They cannot step into the path of a moving vehicle when it does not have time to stop. Pedestrians should also use sidewalks whenever possible and if they must walk on the road, they should stick to the shoulder and face oncoming traffic.
Louisiana law favors pedestrians: While there are specifics to the law, in plain terms it says drivers must avoid hitting a pedestrian regardless of who has the right-of-way.
Stay Safe – and Avoid Liability – With These Tips
For obvious reasons, no one should take a chance with their own safety, even if civil cases favor the pedestrian. The human body is no match for a car or truck, which means injuries to pedestrians are often catastrophic. Are there things you can do to stay safe – and avoid liability – when you’re out walking? Start with these safety tips:
- Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
- Keep alert at all times and don’t be distracted by electronic devices..
- Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections, where drivers expect pedestrians.
- Look for cars in all directions, including those turning left or right.
- Make eye contact with drivers as they approach to make sure you are seen.
- Be visible at all times with bright and reflective clothing, or use a flashlight.
- Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways, or backing up in parking lots.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking, which impair your abilities.
Are You Entitled to Compensation From an Accident? We Can Help.
Because of Louisiana’s comparative fault law, cases with a car versus pedestrian accident can be hard to prove. This is true even when most injured pedestrians are entitled to compensation after being hit by a car. If you or somebody you love has been injured in a pedestrian accident caused by the careless or negligent actions of another person, and you wish to discuss the specifics of your case with an experienced personal injury lawyer, contact us today.