According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pedestrians are among the most vulnerable on American roadways. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that an estimated 76,000 pedestrians were seriously injured in auto accidents in 2012, and approximately 5,000 lost their lives. Within the next 24 hours, approximately 450 pedestrians will be treated in hospital emergency rooms in the United States for auto accident related injuries, and in the next hour, one person will die. Unfortunately, that number keeps going up, and the State of Nevada is not immune.
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Between the years of 2008 and 2012, an alarming 784 pedestrians were seriously injured on Nevada roadways, and 234 were killed. According to the Nevada Department of Public Safety and Transportation, the number of pedestrians who were fatally injured by vehicles in 2009 was 36, a number that has nearly doubled to 69 in 2014. With numbers like these, it is critical that pedestrians and drivers alike understand the risks in order to reverse the trend in pedestrian tragedies.
Pedestrians at Risk
While anyone can be struck by a vehicle, the CDC reports that pedestrians in the following groups have the highest risk.
- Older Individuals: Pedestrians age 65 and older accounted for 9 percent of traffic-related injuries in 2012. Unfortunately, the rate of pedestrian death in auto crashes tends to increase with age, and approximately 20 percent of pedestrian fatalities were individuals in this age group as well.
- Children: Due to their small size, children are at greater risk of suffering from serious injuries or death in pedestrian traffic accidents. In fact, approximately 1 in 4 children under the age of 14 who were killed in traffic accidents were pedestrians.
- Teenagers and Young Adults: According to the CDC, pedestrians between the ages of 15 and 29 are more likely than any other age group to be treated in hospital emergency rooms due to vehicle accidents.
- Impaired Pedestrians: In 2012, pedestrians who were legally drunk accounted for an alarming 34 percent of all pedestrians who lost their lives in traffic accidents.
Common Causes of Pedestrians Being Injured or Killed in Auto Accidents
The sad truth about pedestrian injuries and fatalities on America’s roadways is that in most cases, these incidents can be prevented. Understanding the common causes of pedestrian traffic accidents can help drivers and pedestrians share the roads more safely.
- Intersections: Drivers and pedestrians alike are often at fault for accidents at intersections. Pedestrians who neglect to watch for traffic or fail to obey traffic control devices often step into the path of a vehicle making an accident difficult to avoid. Drivers sometimes fail to stop at stop signs or red lights, or speed through unmarked intersections making it difficult for pedestrians to get out of the line of traffic.
- Alcohol: Alcohol was involved in nearly 50 percent of all accidents in which the pedestrian was fatally injured in 2012. The risk for traffic related pedestrian injuries and deaths is particularly high near bars and other drinking establishments where impaired drivers and impaired pedestrians are typically more common.
- Distracted Driving: Distracted driving is a significant reason for the high number of traffic related pedestrian accidents. Drivers who text on their phones, search for music on their media devices, or are otherwise distracted are less likely to see a pedestrian in the roadway, and sometimes they may leave the roadway and strike a pedestrian.
- Mid-Block: The majority of pedestrian traffic accidents occur in the middle of the block between intersections. Children frequently run into the roadway to chase a ball, and adults often cross mid-way through the block or step into the street to enter a vehicle.When pedestrians enter the roadway in an unexpected location, drivers are less prepared to stop.
What Happens When Traffic Related Pedestrian Injuries Occur
Unfortunately, when automobiles collide with pedestrians, the injuries suffered by pedestrians are often severe. Head traumas, spinal chord injuries, and injuries that result in paralysis or even amputations are not uncommon. Such severe injuries can be life changing for victims and their families. Medical bills often pile up, victims frequently lose wages due to their inability to work, and many victims suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that could require treatment for months or years.
While the driver’s auto insurance or the pedestrian’s own insurance may cover the cost of some of these expenses, in many situations coverage amounts are not adequate, or insurance companies deny claims completely. In these situations, litigation is often the only solution to help victims recover adequate compensation for damages. An experienced auto accident lawyer can help victims explore insurance coverage, negotiate with insurance companies, and pursue claims in court when necessary.