Pedestrians involved in auto collisions are at risk for severe injury

USA Today recently published a story saying that, after three straight years of rising pedestrian deaths in America from traffic crashes, preliminary figures indicate that the number of pedestrian fatalities is now dropping. Experts had been puzzled by the three-year rise in pedestrian deaths since all other categories of road fatalities had dropped during the same time period. Some experts felt that distracted behavior-by both drivers and pedestrians-might have contributed to the rise in pedestrian deaths.

The authors of the Wisconsin Highway Safety Plan note that the majority of pedestrian accidents that occur in our state occur in urban areas. The Safety Plan authors also note that children less than nine years of age, together with people over the age of 75, are especially vulnerable to pedestrian accidents. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation strongly advises that adults must closely supervise children nine years of age or younger when they cross the street.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine's web site contains an article entitled "Pedestrian Injuries: Emergency Care Considerations." The authors of this article observe that most motor vehicle-pedestrian collisions are "frontal collisions" which, at typical street speeds, can propel a pedestrian onto the hood or windshield of the striking vehicle. The severity of the injuries to a pedestrian is related to many factors including vehicle speed and the angle of impact.

Many of the injuries arising from pedestrian-vehicular collisions involve trauma to the head, neck, legs and pelvis. Additional types of injuries sustained in pedestrian highway accidents are fractures, spinal dislocations and chest injuries. Serious impacts with the upper and lower legs and knees can lead to long-term and/or permanent physical disability. If there is a severe enough impact with the head, a serious and possibly fatal traumatic brain injury can result.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that motor vehicle drivers should take the following precautions in order to reduce the risk of a collision with a pedestrian:

  • Look out for pedestrians everywhere and at all times.
  • Be vigilant for pedestrians in hard to see conditions such as at night or in bad weather.
  • Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or entering a crosswalk.
  • Always stop at crosswalks for pedestrians.
  • Never overtake vehicles stopped at a crosswalk since they are probably stopped to allow pedestrians to cross the street.
  • Never take alcohol or drugs and drive.
  • Observe speed limitations.

DOT Objectives

The Wisconsin DOT observes that pedestrians live in a world "dominated by motorists." Since pedestrian accident personal injuries can be severe, the DOT's goal is to reduce the number of pedestrian accidents. First, the DOT intends on significantly stepping up its efforts aimed at educating both pedestrians and motorists on road safety issues and the importance of obeying the rules of the road. Second, the DOT will continue to work with urban planning engineers and law enforcement agencies in order to make sure that roads and intersection crosswalks are designed to be safer for pedestrians.

Seeking compensation

Do not allow yourself to be an uncompensated victim of a pedestrian-motor vehicle collision. If you or a loved one has suffered physical injuries as the result of the negligence of a motor vehicle operator, you need to contact an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney skilled at handling Wisconsin motor vehicle accident cases can investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident and help you seek compensation for your injuries.