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Does Race Determine Your Chances of Getting Hit as a Pedestrian?

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Courtney Coughenour, a public health researcher out of the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, had a pressing question. Pedestrian injuries have become an epidemic in her city, with reports of people being struck by cars coming through almost every day. It’s a problem that’s been spiking across the country in recent years, according to the CDC. That alone was cause for worry, but she wanted to take it a step further and studied pedestrian collisions and their relation to someone’s race.

This led Coughenour and her fellow researchers to conduct a study where a white person and a minority would cross the street. The results were alarming. They found that overwhelmingly traffic stopped more for the white person than the minority. This data, however, didn’t fully explain why this was happening other than the apparent driver bias. One of the possibilities researchers believe is that minorities most likely walk more than their white counterparts or possibly because they live in neighborhoods with less safe intersections and fewer traffic control devices. There were other disparities as well, such as drivers in high-income neighborhoods being less likely to stop for pedestrians in general than drivers in low-income areas.

Parsing through this data and figuring out how to resolve the problem as it pertains to race is ongoing. But there’s another pedestrian related epidemic where we do know a contributing factor with direct resolution in sight.  Many places around the country are seeing an increase in pedestrian related injuries and deaths with many studies citing distraction as the leading contributor. Both drivers and pedestrians using smart phones and wearing noise-blocking headphones, which also can silence the sounds of traffic, also contribute to the likelihood of a car vs. pedestrian collision.

Here are some tips to protect yourself as a pedestrian – both legally and based on the results of studies:

Whenever Possible, Use the Crosswalk

By using a crosswalk, you are less likely to be hit. Plus, the law protects you more in a crosswalk than outside a crosswalk. You have the right of way as a pedestrian in a crosswalk, but outside of a crosswalk you’re taking a greater risk crossing the road. While a driver cannot run you down, it will be harder to prove that you gave the car enough time to see you and slow down to allow you to cross. If there is a sign specifically prohibiting crossing at that location, then you are even more likely to be determined at fault if you get hit.

Keep Your Head Up

Despite laws against using cell phones while driving, cell phone use among drivers is increasing – not decreasing. That means more distracted drivers and more reason for you to be hyper alert when crossing the road. Avoid having your headphones in as well. This will keep you more alert and giving you a better chance at hearing vehicles approaching.

Don’t Assume a Car Will Stop

Even if you have a green light or the walk sign directs you to walk, you still need to keep a look out. Just because you have the right of way doesn’t mean that all drivers will respect that or pay close attention. We at Elsner Law Firm have represented people who were walking in the crosswalk with the walk sign on and were still hit. Oftentimes this is because of driver inattention or the driver doesn’t see the pedestrian because it is dark out or the sun is in their eyes.

If You’re Hit, Get a Witness

Despite all your best preparation, the recklessness of a driver can still lead to an accident. If you’re hit and not seriously injured, try to get witness contact information. You may have to prove later on that you were the one that was following the law.

In those worst case scenarios, don’t worry – we’re here to help. Elsner specializes in personal injury and pedestrian accident cases. You’ll be able to rest assured that lawyers experienced with your particular situation are working for you. If you need legal help for your pedestrian accident case, call or text us today.

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