When you get into a car, you assume that there is a small chance that you may get into a car accident, even if you are a safe driver. However, that is not the case when you go for a walk, or a jog around the neighborhood. Tragically, cars don’t just hit other cars. They may hit pedestrians too.
What is a Pedestrian?
A pedestrian is a person traveling outside their vehicle on foot or using other modes of transportation like roller skates, skateboards, wheelchairs, or tricycles. Whether a bicyclist is considered a pedestrian varies depending on city and where the accident took place. In the Phoenix valley, a bicyclist is generally considered a pedestrian when they are following pedestrian rules like riding their bikes on a sidewalk or crossing the street using pedestrian crosswalks. They are considered a separate category when they are driving in bicycle lanes and turning with traffic. For more information on bicycle accidents, check out our Bicycle Accidents page.
What Causes Pedestrian Accidents?
There are, generally speaking, 9 main causes of pedestrian accidents.
- Distracted Driving: While driving while distracted can be dangerous for other vehicles, it can be dangerous for pedestrians as well. Additionally, pedestrians using a crosswalk while being distracted by a cell phone or other devices may also be at increased risk for vehicle-pedestrian accidents.
- Driving Under the Influence: For many of the same reasons that driving under the influence causes other accidents, it increases the chance of pedestrian accidents.
- Impatient Drivers: In most circumstances, a pedestrian has the right-of-way in traffic. If a pedestrian is walking while a car is turning, with or without a light signaling the turn, cars may try to go around the pedestrian and misjudge the distance.
- Recklessness: Reckless behavior by both drivers and pedestrians is one of the leading causes of pedestrian-vehicle accidents. Paying attention to traffic signals, whether you are a pedestrian or driver, is imperative for safety.
- Bad Weather: A slippery road will make it difficult for a car to stop, even if they see a pedestrian. Rain and snow can cause a car to hydroplane and skid, which could make the car jump the curb. Finally, wet and slippery weather could cause a pedestrian to slip and fall into the path of a car.
- Low Visibility: At nighttime, the number of pedestrian accidents generally increases. When walking or jogging at night, pedestrians should always wear white or light-colored clothing to increase visibility, as well as taking a flashlight to turn on at intersections.
- Road Construction: While road construction inconveniences all drivers, it can also inconvenience pedestrians. While drivers can usually follow the flow of traffic to figure out alternate routes, pedestrians may end up somewhere where drivers don’t expect them leading to a higher possibility of an accident.
- Left Turns: When turning left, cars may be too busy navigating busy intersections to pay attention to pedestrians or even road signals.
- Multi-Lane Roads: When on a multi-lane road, cars often have to worry about other cars on the road. They don’t usually look out for pedestrians, particularly if there are no sidewalks, shoulders, or crosswalks for pedestrians to use.
How Common Are Pedestrian Accidents?
In 2020 in Arizona, there were 1,842 total pedestrian accidents, approximately 1.5% of all crashes across the state. 1,767 of them occurred in Maricopa County alone. Out of all pedestrian accidents, 88% of the pedestrians involved were injured, and 11% were killed.
What Do You Do If a Car Hits You?
There are a few things that you need to do if you’ve been hit by a car as a pedestrian, assuming you are conscious after the accident.
- Move out of the street or road onto a sidewalk or other safe place. Even though you might be angry, upset, and in pain, try to remain as calm as possible even though it may be difficult.
- Keep the driver there. If the driver leaves before police arrive to get a statement and without identifying themselves, it is called a hit-and-run accident. First thing, try to take a photo of the license plate and get the driver’s name, in case they leave later.
- Call the police. The first thing you should do is call the police from the scene of the accident, even if you don’t think you are injured.
- Collect information and document the accident. You should get a report from the other driver stating what happened and take photos of the accident. When taking pictures, make sure to have a timestamp on them, document any visible injuries, the road, and anything else you can think of.
- If you are too panicked to do any of this, ask someone for help. This is a witness, and they can help you gather information and take photos. They can also help by giving their statement of what happened.
- Go to the hospital to get checked out, even if you are not sure if you are injured. Adrenaline may delay pain, so you may not even know what injuries you have.
- If you are injured, look for a personal injury lawyer who can help get you compensation.
Who Is Liable for Pedestrian Accidents?
When a car hits a pedestrian, the liability usually falls on the driver of the car. However, liability also depends on who was at fault. One consideration of determining fault is whether each party was obeying the law.
If there are no traffic lights or stop signs at a crosswalk, or if the traffic lights are not working, a vehicle must yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing the road within a crosswalk when the pedestrian:
- Is on the half of the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling
- Is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger of being hit by the motorist’s car.
- If a vehicle is stopped at a crosswalk to allow a pedestrian to pass, the driver of another vehicle approaching from the rear may not overtake and pass the stopped vehicle
Drivers are also required to:
- Exercise due care to avoid hitting pedestrians
- Warn pedestrians by sounding the horn when necessary
- Exercise proper caution when seeing a child or a confused or incapacitated person on a roadway
Is a Pedestrian Ever At Fault?
A pedestrian could be considered at fault if they break the laws of the city they are in.
- A pedestrian “shall not suddenly leave any curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.”
- If a pedestrian is trying to cross a road at some point other than within a crosswalk at an intersection, the pedestrian must yield the right of way to all vehicles on the road.
- Between adjacent intersections at which traffic signals are in operation, pedestrians may only cross at crosswalks.
- If sidewalks are available, pedestrians are required to walk on the sidewalks rather than on the road.
- If sidewalks are not available, then pedestrians walking along a highway are required to walk on the left side of the road, or on the shoulder, facing approaching traffic.
- Standing in a road to flag down a car in order to hitchhike is prohibited.
Hospitals Near You
Depending on where you are in the Valley, here’s a list of some hospitals that may be close to you.
Chandler Regional Medical Center
Mercy Gilbert Medical Center
Arizona General Medical Center
Deer Valley Medical Center
John C. Lincoln Medical Center
Abrazo Arrowhead Campus