If you live in Maine, you’ll never run out of wonderful places to explore. But in order for everyone to enjoy hiking, walking and sight seeing safely, motorists and pedestrians must be mindful of each other’s whereabouts, and focus on sharing the roadways safely. Especially as the weather warms up, more pedestrians will head outdoors to enjoy the beautiful sights around the state. In order to help prevent tragic, unnecessary automobile and pedestrian accidents, motorists and pedestrians must follow the rules of the road and make safety a top priority. Understanding pedestrian and driving safety can help prevent an automobile accident, and may even save a life.
Statistics on Pedestrian and Automobile Accidents
Across the state, there are hundreds of hiking and biking trails, historic sites and museums to visit, even walking tours designed just for foodies offered in beautiful downtown Portland. But whether you’re strolling through The Old Port area of downtown Portland, (which is quite convenient to Hardy, Wolf and Downing’s downtown Portland legal offices), or strolling along the shore at Kettle Cove, pedestrians should be especially alert and aware anytime they are crossing the roadway. According to recent national trends, one pedestrian is injured every 8 minutes, and one pedestrian dies every two hours.
Bustling downtown Portland and Lewiston are wonderful places to visit. But whether you’re hiking, window shopping or taking a stroll after dinner, pedestrians should also keep in mind that urban areas are much more dangerous than quieter roadways. Almost 75% of pedestrian deaths occur in urban environments, where traffic is heavier and there are more drivers, distractions and activity happening all around. 70% of the pedestrian deaths occur at nighttime; and many involve alcohol. According to recent studies, 47% of traffic accidents that involved the death of a pedestrian involved some alcohol in the systems of either the driver, the pedestrian, or both. Alcohol is a serious contributing factor in many pedestrian/automobile accidents; 33% of pedestrians involved in fatal automobile accidents had blood alcohol levels above the legal limits. Alcohol impairs driving, but may also impair your senses when walking, crossing the street and judging distances of oncoming traffic.
One simple way to prevent pedestrian/automobile accidents is for pedestrians to limit the number of alcoholic beverages they consume before they hit the streets. Alternately, they can ask a friend to walk with them if they feel at all impaired. Drivers, of course, should never drive under the influence of alcohol; impaired driving puts pedestrians at risk for grave injuries or even death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, male pedestrians are more likely to be injured in a pedestrian/motor vehicle accident than females, and your risk for being involved in an automobile/pedestrian accident rises as you age. Teens and young adults (15-29 years of age) are also more likely to be treated in emergency rooms for crash related injuries than any other age group.
Safety Tips for Pedestrians
Pedestrians can keep a few tips in mind to help keep them safer when they need to cross busy streets or share the road with automobiles. Although motorists should always be on the lookout for pedestrians, drivers all too often fail to see pedestrians, especially at intersections where they are making turns or when it’s dark. Pedestrians should always wait until traffic is clear before crossing the street in a crosswalk whenever possible.
Far too many drivers are distracted by cell phones and other electronic devices when they are behind the wheel. Other drivers are fatigued, have poor driving skills or be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. So, it’s wise for pedestrians to be vigilant anytime they cross a street.
Drivers may make mistakes when they drive distracted, but distractions are also a problem for pedestrians. If a pedestrian is walking without paying attention to their surroundings, it’s easy to make a deadly mistake by crossing in front of a car. Pedestrians can help keep themselves safer by minimizing distractions while they are in traffic (such as talking or texting while walking or listening to music, which may make it difficult to hear an oncoming car). Whenever possible, pedestrians should use the sidewalk. However, there are times there are no sidewalks available, or you using the sidewalk isn’t feasible. In those cases, the CDC recommends that you walk facing traffic, using great caution.
Children At Increased Risk For Pedestrian Car Accidents
Children are at the greatest risk for serious injury or death from pedestrian/automobile accidents, in part because of their small size. Children are also less familiar with traffic rules, and have a more difficult time judging the speed and distance of an oncoming car. The CDC estimates that 1 in 4 traffic deaths for children age 14 and under are due to pedestrian/automobile accidents.
Parents should take time to educate their children about crossing the street safely, and always keep an eye on children when they are playing near busy roads and streets. Instruct your children never to follow a lost ball or other toy into the road. Practice looking both ways with your child while crossing the street. Although crossing the street may seem like an elementary task, even older children can become distracted while chatting with friends and simply forget about safety. Keep practicing safe pedestrian behavior with your children, and they’ll stay safe as they grow.
Children should be reminded to use crosswalks at all times, never cross between parked cars and wear bright, reflective clothing and carry a flashlight when walking in the early morning or evening hours.
If your children walk to school, map out a safe walking route with together. If possible, minimize the number of times your child needs to cross busy streets, and help them recognize traffic patterns and when it’s safe to cross.
Practice walking the route with your children several times, at different times of the day, to ensure they are consistently following safety precautions. Safe Kids Worldwide offers excellent advice for keeping children safe while walking, along with information on a variety of important safety topics related to children and their health and well being.
The Hardy, Wolf and Downing Personal Injury Team Knows How to Help If You’ve Been Injured In A Pedestrian Automobile Accident
So, whether you are planning a trip from Lewiston to the Thorncrag Nature Sanctuary (close to Hardy, Wolf and Downing’s Lewiston law offices), or a relaxing stroll along Lewiston’s Riverwalk, the unfortunate reality is that being a pedestrian can be dangerous. When motorists are distracted, driving under the influence, driving too fast for conditions or otherwise driving in a dangerous fashion, pedestrians are at risk of being seriously injured in an automobile accident.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident while you were walking, call the experienced personal injury attorneys at Hardy, Wolf and Downing. With three convenient locations, two in Portland (Congress Street, on Auburn Street) in Portland, and an office in Lewiston, Maine, our experienced Maine car accident attorneys will assist your family in all aspects of your pedestrian/automobile accident personal injury case. If you have been hit by a car and the driver was at fault, you deserve to be compensated for your physical and emotional injuries. The Hardy, Wolf and Downing personal injury team has extensive experience with pedestrian and car accidents in Maine, and we will fight for your rights and help get you the fair and just treatment you deserve.