A new report has found that Arizona has one of the highest rates of pedestrian fatalities in the country. According to a KTAR news report, the report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) finds that Arizona ranks third in the United States for the most pedestrian accident deaths per capita. In the first six months of 2016, 97 pedestrians were killed, which was up from 86 deaths in the first half of 2015. The report also found that 6,000 pedestrians were killed nationwide in 2016, the highest number in more than 20 years.
Negligent Motorists and Distracted Pedestrians
Alberto Gutier, the director of the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, blamed motorists who speed and run the red light for an increase in pedestrian accident fatalities. He also said distracted pedestrians and those who jaywalk contribute to these fatal crashes. This report comes several months after Arizona was given a grant by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to address pedestrian and bicycle fatalities. Gutier has said he plans to spend this grant money to educate the public and to increase awareness about pedestrian and bicycle accident deaths in the state. Some of the grant money will also be used to step up enforcement, he said.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
While pedestrians are sometimes to blame for vehicle versus pedestrian accidents, we often find that negligent motorists are the main reason why these horrific and devastating accidents occur. Here are some of the most common causes of pedestrian accidents:
- Impaired driving: Nearly half of all pedestrian accidents involve the use of alcohol and/or drugs. Driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs impairs the driver’s judgment. About 14 percent of drivers involved in fatal pedestrian accidents had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher. When a motorist operates under the influence, the risk of a pedestrian collision is simply greater.
- Distracted drivers: Driver distraction has become a major factor on our roadways today, period. Researchers say distracted driving is a public health threat. Even though vehicle deaths have decreased in the U.S., the number of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths caused by distracted driving has actually been increasing. Each day in the United States, over eight people are killed and 1,161 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. A distraction could be visual (taking your eyes off the road), manual (taking your hands off the wheel) or cognitive (taking your mind off the act of driving).
- Excessive speed: Research studies have consistently found that the higher the vehicle speed, the more serious the injury to a pedestrian. According to studies conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAA), the average risk of severe injury for a pedestrian struck by a vehicle reaches 10 percent at an impact speed of 16 mph, 25 percent at 23 mph, 50 percent at 31 mph, 75 percent at 39 mph and 90 percent at 46 mph. The average risk of death for a pedestrian is 10 percent at an impact speed of 23 mph, 50 percent at 42 mph and 90 percent at 58 mph. Excessive speed is one of the most common causes of fatal pedestrian accidents in the U.S.
- Rules of the road: Failure to follow the rules of the road is also another major factor in pedestrian accident. Examples include running a red light or stop sign and failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks and at intersections. Arizona law requires vehicles to yield the right of way to pedestrians in marked and unmarked crosswalks. The law also states that if a vehicle is stopped at a crosswalk to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of another vehicle approaching from behind shall not pass the stopped vehicle.
- Dangerous roadways: Some crosswalks and intersections are simply designed poorly. For example, some locations offer poor visibility to motorists. In some cases, pedestrians may not even have sidewalks or crosswalks causing them to cross dangerously. In such cases, the city or governmental agency responsible for maintaining the roadways or intersections could be held liable for the accident and injuries caused.
If You Have Been Injured
There are several steps you can and should probably take after a pedestrian accident in order to protect your legal rights. First and foremost, make sure you get the medical attention, treatment and care you need. If you are injured, get emergency transportation and treatment. If the driver who hits you remains at the scene, make sure you obtain all information including insurance, license plate, vehicle registration, contact information, etc. File a police report and get a copy for your records.
If anyone saw the incident, be sure to get contact information for those eyewitnesses as well. Take as many photos as you possibly can of the accident scene and your injuries. If you are injured and unable to gather information at the scene, have a family member or friend do that for you since this information can be extremely valuable if you file a claim or lawsuit.
If you were struck and injured by a hit-and-run driver, try to get license plate number or even a partial license plate. Ask around to see if anyone can identify the make or model of the vehicle or can give a physical description of the hit-and-run driver. Be sure to file a police report.
Save all receipts and invoices connected with your injury and recovery process. This includes emergency room bills, doctor office invoices, receipts for medication purchases, etc. Make a record of the number of workdays you missed as a result of your injury as well. Contact an experienced Arizona personal injury lawyer who will fight for your rights and help ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your losses. You may be eligible to seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, cost of rehabilitative treatment and pain and suffering. Call us for a free consultation and case evaluation.