What Causes Pedestrian Accidents

Photo of a woman crossing a road

Pedestrians are at constant risk of suffering harm in areas with high traffic density. In addition to being difficult to spot, when collisions do occur, pedestrians often suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries. Bicyclists and motorcyclists, two other groups who are at high risk from vehicles, often wear helmets or other protective gear. Pedestrians have zero protection. When a vehicle slams into a pedestrian, especially at high speeds, the collision will likely be fatal.

In California and across the country, there are a number of reasons why pedestrian accidents occur. Common causes of pedestrian accidents include:

  • Distracted driving. Pedestrians are already difficult for motorists to spot. If a motorist is not paying attention to his or her surroundings, then it is even more difficult to spot a pedestrian in time to avoid a collision. Texting and driving is not the only type of distraction that can lead to a pedestrian accident. Motorists may also be distracted if they are eating or grooming behind the wheel.
  • Not using lights. Pedestrians may be unable to see a vehicle coming if the vehicle is not using its lights. This is especially true at night, during poor weather, or if the pedestrian is wearing headphones.
  • Speeding. Vehicles that are traveling at high speeds need more time and room to come to a complete stop. If a vehicle is speeding through a neighborhood, and it needs time to avoid hitting a child on a bicycle, then it is much more likely that child is going to be hit. The same is true for vehicles that are travelling at high speeds through intersections with pedestrian crosswalks.
  • Drunk and drugged driving. Motorists who are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol are more likely to cause accidents. It takes an impaired motorist longer to react to potential hazards, such as a pedestrian crossing the street. If a motorist is under the influence, he or she may not be paying attention, which also increases the risk of an accident. Finally, impaired motorists may veer out of the driving lane and hit pedestrians traveling along the side of a road.
  • Quiet cars. Research suggests that quiet cars may put pedestrians at risk. Certain types of electric or hybrid vehicles are more difficult for pedestrians to hear. The United Kingdom has even passed laws to prevent quiet vehicles from causing accidents.
  • Left turns. Motorists who are making left-hand turns may not check for pedestrians crossing the street. This is a common reason why pedestrians are struck by vehicles at intersections.
  • Backing out of a parking lot. Many pedestrians are hit by vehicles in parking lots. This is because there is a high density of both pedestrians and vehicles. In parking lots with a lot of foot traffic, a pedestrian is at risk of being hit by a vehicle that is backing out of a parking space.
  • Unmarked crosswalks. Pedestrians are much more likely to be hit while crossing the street at an unmarked crosswalk. Vehicles may not know to look for pedestrians, which increases the risk of an accident.
  • Dark clothing or poor lighting. Pedestrians are much more difficult to spot if they are wearing dark clothing or walking in an area with poor lightning. Severe weather, such as heavy rain, can also conceal pedestrians from motorists.
  • Wearing or being distracted by electronics. Pedestrians must be aware of their surroundings at all times. If a pedestrian is wearing headphones or distracted by an electronic device, then it is much more likely they will have less time to avoid a collision. The pedestrian would be unable to hear or see the vehicle approaching. However, this does not necessarily mean the pedestrian is completely at fault for the accident.
  • Failing to yield. Pedestrians have the right of way. When motorists do not allow pedestrians to cross the street first, the chances of a collision are much higher. The pedestrian, who is most likely annoyed by the rudeness of the driver, may proceed to cross the street anyways.
  • Road rage. Believe it or not, some motorists get extremely upset when pedestrians cross the street without using a crosswalk (jaywalking). In rare cases, the motorist may even try to speed up as an act of road rage. This increases the risk of an accident.

About Our San Diego Car Accident Law Firm

Traffic Accident Law Center has extensive experience handling auto and pedestrian accident cases in San Diego and the surrounding areas. We encourage you to contact us for a free consultation if you have questions about your legal rights after a pedestrian accident. You can reach our San Diego car accident law firm by dialing (619)882-1111 or by using the case review form on our website.