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Vehicle-Pedestrian Accidents on the Rise
A 70-year old woman suffered fatal injuries in September 2015, when she was struck by a truck as she was hurrying across the road near the Lakeshore Blvd and Park Lawn Rd intersection in Etobicoke. According to eyewitnesses at the scene, the woman tripped on a sewer grate and fell as she attempted to run to the other side before being struck by an oncoming truck. The incident unfortunately mirrors many other pedestrian-vehicle collisions, particularly in large urban centers.
According to a 2011 study by Transport Canada, 60% of pedestrians killed in traffic accidents were trying to cross the road at the time of the incident and 63% of those killed at intersections were 65 or older. Pedestrian-Vehicle collisions are an increasing road safety issue, ranking high along with car crashes, cyclist-motorist accidents and animal-vehicle collisions. In December 2013, The National Post wrote that police studies in major cities like Toronto and Halifax indicate a rising number of pedestrian accidents at crosswalks. At this time, Toronto police reported reaching a disturbing ten year high in terms of pedestrian deaths. A Dalhousie University study further determined that pedestrians were not at fault in 46 per cent of the pedestrian-vehicle accidents reported.
There are many factors that may contribute to this significant problem; it is imperative that pedestrians and motorists alike understand how their own actions play a part and how these accidents can be avoided.The following are ways in which pedestrians sometimes contribute to pedestrian-vehicle collisions:
- Jaywalking – Jaywalking essentially refers to a pedestrian walking or crossing a street unlawfully or without regard to oncoming traffic. This could mean crossing between intersections without stopping for drivers or crossing a street with no crosswalk, etc. The danger is that it puts the pedestrian at risk of being hit by a driver who may not be aware of their presence until it is too late. This is particularly true if the presence of the pedestrian is blocked, such as between parked cars, before they are visible on the road.
- Drinking – We often hear about drinking and driving and how it undermines our ability to drive safely. However, pedestrians should also avoid walking home alone after they have had too much drink. Alcohol impairs our judgement; walking on streets while drunk can lead to ignoring stop signs, being unsteady on one’s feet, and other missteps which can result in accidentally falling into oncoming traffic or simply not being aware of an oncoming vehicle.
- Being Distracted – Like drinking and driving, we often hear about distracted driving and why it is dangerous but we forget that the same applies to pedestrians. It is similarly risky for a pedestrian to be walking and talking on the phone, texting or listening to loud music. This can lead to accidentally stepping into oncoming traffic because the individual is not paying attention to where they are going. Also, loud music can drown out noises to the point that the individual does not hear an approaching vehicle from a distance.
- Misunderstanding Signs & Signals – There are many road signs motorists need to learn in order to get a driver’s license. However, pedestrians must also be aware of and understand signs as well as pedestrian crossing rules. If they don’t, they can inadvertently cross at the wrong time or place, and walk right into oncoming traffic.
The following are ways drivers contribute to pedestrian-vehicle collisions:
- Speeding – Speeding is a prominent contributing factor in vehicle-vehicle collisions, so it is hardly surprising that the same holds true for pedestrian-vehicle collisions. Aside from being illegal, driving at a high speed impedes a driver’s ability to react quickly and stop abruptly. While it is sometimes the fault of the pedestrian who accidentally steps in front of an oncoming vehicle, it is much easier for a driver to stop and avoid a tragedy if they are driving at a reasonable speed.
- Driving Under The Influence – Similar to speeding, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a leading cause of motor vehicle accidents and also a contributing factor in many pedestrian-vehicle collisions. Driving under the influence of any type of alcohol or drugs impairs one’s judgement and weakens the ability to react and make quick decisions and this can lead to tragic consequences.
- Distracted Driving – Distracted driving, which includes everything from eating, looking away to talk to passengers, texting, talking on the phone and making music selections, impairs one’s judgement. This makes it harder to react in time and avoid a collision with a pedestrian who may have suddenly and inadvertently walked onto the road.
- Visibility Issues – While not directly the fault of the driver, just as weather conditions and poor visibility increase the risk of vehicle-vehicle crashes, poor visibility and nighttime conditions are an even greater factor in accidents with pedestrians who may not be seen by drivers until it is too late. This is especially true when dressed in dark, muted colors like black or grey. Heavy snowstorms and rainstorms can also make it very difficult for drivers to see an individual walking on the streets.
- Type of Vehicle – Drivers must be aware of the added potential risks that come with the type of vehicle they are driving. For example, the pedestrian death in Etobicoke involved an international roll-off bin truck whose size, braking ability and handling is significantly different from a small car. In the case of the truck for example, visibility may be an issue due to their height and height of their blind-spot, and this may make it more difficult to see pedestrians. Drivers have to be aware of this and therefore be more vigilant when driving.
Pedestrian-vehicle collisions are a very serious problem that often result in severe and sometimes catastrophic injuries, as well as death. The good news is that with care and vigilance, both drivers and pedestrians can actively minimize the likelihood that these accidents occur. In the case of pedestrians, the old adage of ‘look both ways before you cross the street’ has not diminished in importance. Unfortunately, even when practicing safe crossing, pedestrians are sometimes struck by drivers who are in the process of breaking a driving regulation or simply not taking due care.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a pedestrian-vehicle collision or another type of motor vehicle accident, please do not hesitate to give us a call. The skilled team of personal injury lawyers at Kodak Law are always available for consultation on your rights in any personal injury situation. Call or visit us today for a free initial consultation where we will provide an honest assessment of your case and best legal options.
We know that the aftermath of an accident can be a very difficult and trying time, both physically and emotionally. Let us help ease your mind by fighting your legal battle for you.