How Can Pedestrians Stay Safe?
Although Maine motorists have a responsibility to “exercise due care” when driving and passing a pedestrian by leaving a distance of at least 3 feet when they pass, the unfortunate truth is that motorists can’t always be counted on to follow these laws; as a result, pedestrian accident victims are often left with serious or life threatening injuries. If the driver of a truck, automobile or motorcycle is distracted or intoxicated, they may hit and seriously injure or even kill a pedestrian.
Maine law does offer specific protections for pedestrians which, if followed, can help reduce pedestrian accidents. For example, the law requires motorists to yield the right of way to pedestrians on sidewalks, marked crosswalks and most intersections. The law also prohibits drivers from overtaking another vehicle that is stopped for a pedestrian. Motorists are also required to exercise special caution with children or around pedestrians who are visibly confused, intoxicated or otherwise incapacitated.
Slow Down and Pay Attention!
Although motorists are required by law yield to pedestrians, it is always wise for pedestrians who are walking, biking or running near traffic to protect themselves in case a driver isn’t paying attention, doesn’t see them or is intoxicated.
There are also commonsense ways for both pedestrians and drivers to reduce the risk of being involved in a pedestrian accident. The first is for drivers to slow down. According to Safe Routes to School Online, if a pedestrian is struck by a car traveling at 40 mph, there is an 85 percent likelihood that the pedestrian will be killed. This percentage drops to 45 percent at 30 mph and 5 percent at 20 mph.
When motorists slow down, they have more time to see pedestrians and react in time to avert a pedestrian accident. Drivers moving at slower speeds can also stop over shorter distances. A vehicle traveling 40 mph needs almost 300 feet between the car and a pedestrian to stop in order to avoid a collision. A car traveling 30 mph needs just 197 feet to stop, and that distance is reduced to 112 feet for a car traveling 20 mph and 77 feet for a car traveling 15 mph.
It’s also important for drivers to avoid driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and to avoid distractions. Distracted drivers (who are talking on a cell phone, texting while driving, applying makeup, using a GPS, eating, etc.) may fail to see pedestrians who are walking on the street, and that’s often a cause for serious pedestrian accidents and can lead to lasting injuries and even death.
Other Ways For Pedestrians To Stay Safe
Pedestrians can help protect themselves and possibly avoid being involved in a pedestrian accidents by following a few simple safety tips. Studies indicate that the majority of pedestrian accidents occur at night, in urban areas and in non-intersection locations. Since more pedestrian accidents occur at night, pedestrians can increase their visibility at night by carrying a flashlight and wearing light or reflective clothing. Pedestrians should also be careful when crossing the street, and try to use crosswalks whenever possible. If a pedestrian must walk in the street, they should walk facing traffic if possible. Parents can also help their children stay safe by educating them about traffic safety, and practice safe walking routes to further reinforce the importance of using crosswalks and watching for motorists.
The personal injury attorneys at Hardy, Wolf and Downing have over 35 years experience with pedestrian accidents, and can help your family understand your rights following a pedestrian accident and get the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Our Lewiston, Portland and downtown Portland law offices are here to assist you.
If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, call the experienced personal injury attorneys at Hardy, Wolf and Downing to schedule a free and confidential evaluation of your case. Our personal injury attorneys provide our blog as a service to our clients. They are meant to be purely informational. If you or a loved one has been in a pedestrian accident and would like a free consultation with an auto accident attorney, please call our firm today at 1-800-INJURED to start understanding your legal rights.