According to numbers from the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), there were 867 pedestrian fatalities in California in 2016. Numbers like these are a reminded of the vulnerability of pedestrians and bicyclists. That is why our Orange County, CA personal injury lawyers take auto accidents and pedestrian crashes seriously. The potential for catastrophic and fatal harm is high.
We at the Law Offices of Sean M. Burke would like to consider some facts about pedestrian accidents, particularly when people are crossing as vehicles make left or right turns. Injuries in such situations are common, which is why we want to focus in on them in some detail.
Pedestrian Injury Statistics
According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA), there were 5,987 pedestrian fatalities in the United States in 2016, comprising 16 percent of all traffic fatalities that year; 265 pedestrian fatalities were in Los Angeles County, and 63 pedestrian fatalities were in Orange County. This is part of an upward trend in pedestrian fatalities since 2013, with pedestrian fatalities from 2013-2015 accounting for 15 percent of all traffic deaths.
In the state of California, the GHSA estimated 2.43 pedestrian fatalities for every 100,000 people in the state’s population.
Dangers with Vehicles Turning Right
When making a right turn, motorists may be inattentive of pedestrians or bicyclists who are about to cross the street. As the light turns green, pedestrians also have the right of way to proceed. If a motorist does not allow the pedestrian or bicyclist to proceed, they could strike the pedestrian.
This is also important to consider if a motorist tries to speed through a right turn without slowing down. Failure to slow down could mean the difference between life and death for someone crossing the street.
Dangers with Vehicles Turning Left
Left turns pose their own unique issues for pedestrians. On one-way streets, the same kinds of hazards may be present when drivers make right turns.
When drivers make left turns, they could be too focused on making their turn that they miss pedestrians and bicyclists beginning to cross. Even if the left turn is guarded, drivers must be ready to stop for pedestrians or bicyclists. Unguarded left turns present a greater sense of rushing for drivers, who have to contend with pedestrians as well as oncoming traffic. Waiting for an opportunity to turn can lead to impatient, inattentive, and potentially dangerous drivers.
Problems with Crosswalks, Signs, and Signals
Even if drivers and pedestrians are being safe and attentive, hazards may arise if crosswalks are not designated or delineated properly. Faded paint due to road wear or recent road repair can make crossing the street more dangerous. Obscured signs and malfunctioning traffic signals also contribute to hazards for pedestrians simply trying to get from point A to point B.
Hazards When Walking at Night
We also must acknowledge the dangers are increased when people are walking at night. The darkness can reduce visibility and make it much more difficult for pedestrians and bicyclists to be noticed.
Pedestrians should, when possible, wear some kind of bright clothing at night and stay in well-lit parts of the pavement. Being seen and exercising common sense can help you remain safe even when motorists are being negligent.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
For more information about your legal rights and options following an auto accident, be sure to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. Our legal team is here to help. You can reach our office in Irvine by calling (949) 438-4416.