Traffic safety does not just affect those who are driving on the roadways in Chicago and elsewhere in our country. Rather, anyone who is on, around, or near a public street may find themselves involved in an accident or other traffic-related incident simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Our city has a high number of and a high percentage of pedestrian foot traffic when compared to other forms of transit particularly in the downtown Loop and areas known for heavy commuting. This leads to countless interactions between pedestrians and cars, trucks, vans, SUVs, buses, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and others every day and an unfortunately number of pedestrian accidents annually.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more than 150,000 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms in 2013 for nonfatal injuries following a pedestrian crash and that an additional 4,735 pedestrians lost their lives in such incidents. On average, this means that more than 410 people were hurt every day while walking and that someone died approximately every two hours in that year alone.
The numbers in Illinois show similar bad news. The Illinois Department of Transportation determined that 4,419 pedestrian accidents resulted in injuries in 2013 and that 115 pedestrian incidents were fatal. On average, our state saw 12 injuries each day involving pedestrians and traffic and one fatality every three to four days.
Most of these incidents occurred due to the negligence of someone involved and a large number of them placed an innocent pedestrian in the path of another’s mistake. The majority of Chicago pedestrian traffic crashes can be prevented and avoided if all players take the time to make safety a priority, so why do so many incidents continue to affect our state?
Experts believe that an increased prevalence of distracted driving is playing a role in the number of pedestrian collisions seen in the United States every year. Drivers who are talking on a phone, texting, checking or even sending email, eating, arguing with a passenger, thinking of something other than traffic, or otherwise allowing their focus to drift from the task at hand are more likely to make a mistake and more prone to causing a crash.
Drunk and impaired drivers are also dangerous to pedestrians as they have been shown to be dangerous to all those in and near roadways. Impaired drivers cannot react as quickly as a sober driver and therefore lack the skill and judgment necessary to operate a vehicle in a safe manner.
Pedestrians themselves are to blame in some collisions and sometimes cause others to be harmed. A pedestrian who does not yield the right-of-way or who crosses against a pedestrian crossing signal may be liable for any damages that result in an accident. More commonly, though, a pedestrian may attempt to cross at a location other than a marked crosswalk by quickly walking mid-block, especially in the Loop. This dangerous action is to blame for several Chicago-area accidents every year and some can prove to be fatal.
The threat to pedestrian safety is real in Illinois and in the rest of the states in the country. If a collision left you hurt, affected your life, or harmed someone you love, make sure you understand what rights you possess and whether you are entitled to financial compensation for your damages. Speaking with a personal injury attorney can help you realize whether you can recover, and if so, who bears legal liability for your harm.
Prior Blog Entry:
49 Percent of Adult Drivers Admit to Texting while Driving, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published October 8, 2016.
Pedestrian Safety, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published February 25, 2016.
2013 Illinois Crash Facts and Statistics, Illinois Department of Transportation.