With Halloween coming up, many parents worry about their children’s safety as they are out trick-or-treating. And they should. Statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that car vs. pedestrian accidents had declined from 2003 to 2010, but rose again in 2011 (the latest statistics available). In our area, Charleston, South Carolina, has the unfortunate distinction of being number three on the list of cities with the highest rates of pedestrian fatalities.(1) Pedestrians accounted for 14% of fatalities in vehicle crashes in 2011, up 3% from 2010. By NHTSA estimates, a pedestrian is injured by a motor vehicle on average every 8 minutes and one dies every two hours.(2)
These same statistics reflect that 70% of pedestrian fatalities occur when it’s dark outside, and 2 in 3 fatalities involved pedestrians crossing at places other than an intersection or crosswalk. When the kids head out on Halloween (or just to walk to a friend’s house), it’s important to remind them of some common sense safety tips:
- Wear light or reflective clothing when walking or running outside. You can find reflective strips that are peel and stick to place strategically on Halloween costumes (check sporting goods stores); runners can buy reflective clothing and shoes. Carry a flashlight to make it easier for others to see you.
- Walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or facing traffic if there are no sidewalks. Watch for cars pulling into and out of driveways. Even though you are on the sidewalk, a driver still may not see you.
- Cross the street at intersections or marked crosswalks—but remember that while pedestrians have the right of way, many drivers don’t stop. Always look before crossing.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Do not wear ear buds that block your hearing and do not focus on your mobile device – pay attention to traffic and what is going on around you.
In many cases, the causes of car vs. pedestrian crashes are the same as with vehicle-only collisions. This includes drivers and/or pedestrians who are impaired with alcohol or drugs or are distracted. Drivers, especially those in urban areas, should watch for pedestrians who may not be aware there are cars nearby; and pedestrians should take steps to protect themselves while out walking or running, and watch for drivers who may not see them.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the NHTSA have both compiled some great resources for pedestrians and parents wanting to teach their kids (and others) safety tips when walking.
- Safety in Numbers newsletter – pedestrian safety facts and tips
- Everyone is a Pedestrian – safe walking tips, guides for kids and mature adults, kid’s movie, resident’s guide to walkable communities, and teaching materials
- Walk this Way! Steps for Pedestrian Safety
As always, the Solomon Law Group wants you to be safe. Please take steps to protect yourself and your family as you are out and about. And if you are injured in a car vs. pedestrian crash in North Carolina, South Carolina or Georgia, call the injury lawyers at Solomon Law Group for a free consultation to learn your rights.