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What You Should Know

Pedestrians and Drivers: Often a Fatal Combination

As a civil trial lawyer who specializes in personal injury cases, I have represented (and currently represent) people who have been hit by cars in various situations. The injuries are invariably serious and often catastrophic when the unprotected, relatively small human body is impacted by several thousand pounds of steel, often at high speeds. I have represented people whose cars have broken down on the interstate and are hit by careless drivers even as they stand dozens of feet off the road. Most recently, I represented a cyclist who stopped to fix a mechanical issue with his bike and was hit by an inattentive driver despite being off the road and in plain view. How can this be avoided and how big of a problem is it?

Although it may seem counterintuitive, any long-time runner knows that you always run against traffic. In a bit of gallows humor, I always joke that I want to see who’s trying to kill me. But it makes perfect sense to eagle eye cars as they head your way and easily take evasive action if need be. You can’t do that if your back is to traffic and you can’t see the thousands of pounds of steel hurtling toward you. So, my best advice is to always walk against traffic if at all possible, even if you are on a sidewalk. If for some reason you are walking along a road without sidewalks, you must absolutely, positively always walk against traffic to safely navigate the way.

But is this a problem of any great proportion? According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 5,376 pedestrians were killed by cars in 2015, which equates to almost 15 deaths a day. Further, approximately 129,000 pedestrians were treated in American emergency departments in 2015 for injuries related to crashes with cars. The CDC report may be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/pedestrian_safety/index.html

What can be done beyond the suggestions noted above?

First, wearing bright clothing is a plus. Making yourself as visible as possible can only increase your safety and alert drivers that they must be cautious. Second, the sense of hearing is one of a runner/cyclist’s greatest assets. Any screeching or out of the ordinary sounds (you should be able to hear when a car is close to you as opposed to say, 10 feet away) should immediately alert you to “go for the green.” (A safe spot off the road, usually soft grass or sod). Third, avoid walking with earphones as they negate the suggestion above. Finally, look at your cell phone sparingly while a pedestrian! We all have seen people walking glued to their cellphones, not knowing that they are about to be mowed down by oncoming traffic. If you must look at your phone, find a nice bench (many provided by the City of Tallahassee) and sit down! It may just save your life.