Important Safety Tips for Pedestrians from Our Austin Injury Attorney
This year has already proven to be a deadly one for pedestrians in Texas. There have been several high-profile fatal pedestrian accidents, leading the media, law enforcement and safety advocacy groups to draw attention to the importance of sharing the road safely.
Since 2001, there have been 50,000 pedestrian fatalities across the country, 4,500 of which occurred in Texas. While pedestrian versus car accidents are nothing new, the sharp increase across the state has brought much-needed public attention to the issue. No single reason has been proffered for the surge in the past few months, but public policy makers like Dr. Kara Kockelman of the University of Texas Center for Transportation Research have assigned at least partial blame: Texas as a whole is not “pedestrian-friendly.”
What Does It Mean to Be “Pedestrian-Friendly”?
Cities that are dedicated to protecting the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists alike are cognizant of various urban planning techniques like sidewalks, clearly marked crosswalks, bicycle lanes and other traffic control devices that help everyone share the road safely. There are few—if any—cities in Texas that have adequately utilized these methods to help keep pedestrians, bicyclists and motor vehicles separated and safe.
How Do Inadequate Safety Measures Affect Pedestrians?
The lack of sidewalk and crosswalk infrastructure affects even the largest cities in Texas, including Houston and Austin. Without such safety measures, vulnerable demographic groups like the elderly and small children could suffer catastrophic injuries in pedestrian versus car accidents. According to data compiled by the national Centers for Disease Control, the elderly are statistically most likely to be struck and killed while crossing the street.
Everyone Can Make the Road Safer
Even though it is important for cities to use responsible planning methods that ensure the safety of pedestrians, there are simple actions that citizens can undertake to prevent these fatal collisions from occurring.
Pedestrians can make sure to:
- Remember basic road-sharing principles like looking both ways before crossing at intersections
- Use sidewalks and crosswalks whenever they are available
- Wear some form of bright or reflective clothing that will help them stand out
- Cross as quickly as possible
- Avoid distractions like cell phones, texting, tablets or mp3 players that have been proven to nearly double the amount of time it takes to cross the road
On the other hand, drivers should:
- Stay focused on the roadway ahead, particularly in areas of high pedestrian traffic like school zones, parking lots and shopping centers
- Use turn signals to alert motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians alike of their intention to switch lanes or turn
- Look for pedestrians crossing the street before making right-hand turns at a red light
- Obey traffic control devices like stop signs and red lights
- Refrain from using handheld cell phones, texting or emailing behind the wheel so they can give their full attention to driving
If You Have Been Affected By a Pedestrian Accident
All levels of government need to be aware of the important issue of pedestrian safety, and it is their responsibility to design roadways and sidewalks that are friendly for all kinds of traffic. However, such sweeping changes take time.
Our Austin injury lawyer represents individuals and families who have been affected by pedestrian collisions. If you were hurt, or if you have tragically lost a loved one, contact our office online or give us a call at (512) 474-8346.