The risks that pedestrians face when walking or jogging near traffic cannot be overstated. They’re so vulnerable that even a low-speed crash — such as a car turning through a crosswalk at 15 miles per hour — can cause serious injuries or even death.
The problem is greater than a lot of people realize. For instance, pedestrian accidents set a new record in 2017 when they topped 6,000 fatalities. With thousands of people losing their lives every year and tens of thousands suffering injuries, what can cities do to make them safer?
Cutting back on speeding is a huge benefit to pedestrians. Reducing the speed at impact can save lives, and slowing drivers down can give them more time to react and avoid crashing entirely. Speed cameras and other such technology can help. To some degree, though, this is the hardest area to make any real gains. You can set the speed limit at a low level, but you’re always going to have reckless drivers who break that limit.
Improve roadway designs
Pedestrians are sometimes struck at confusing and poorly-designed areas of the road. These areas should be redesigned to work well for both cars and pedestrians, with a focus on safety over all else. They can consider things like giving pedestrians well-marked crosswalks, increasing visibility and adding lighting in areas where people often walk at night.
There is some evidence that billboards and other such awareness campaigns can help drivers reduce crash levels. Often, safety-related campaigns focus on things like distracted driving or drunk driving. Reducing these is wise, but some should focus on pedestrian crashes, as well.
Embrace driverless cars
One key technology that may keep people safe is a driverless or automated cars. These cars tend to make fewer mistakes and have better reaction times. They’re not perfect, but driver error leads to 90% — or more — of all car accidents. If taking that out of the equation even cut the numbers in half, it would save thousands of lives. It will be interesting to watch the progression of this technology.
Your options after an injury
If you do get injured as a pedestrian, you may be able to seek financial compensation. This can help cover lost wages, medical bills and other such costs. Be sure you know what rights you have.