I heard an interesting story from a colleague recently about an older pedestrian who was struck by a car traveling at 45 MPH while she was crossing the street. According to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety if a car is going 46 MPH and strikes a pedestrian, there is a 90% chance the pedestrian will sustain a severe injury. The chance of death if struck by a car traveling 42 MPH is 50%.
The woman was in her 70s and was known in the area for her strict exercise regimen, which included lifting weights. Amazingly, she was only badly bruised and suffered no broken bones. Her doctor attributed this miracle to her weight lifting, which kept her bones strong.
This story got me to thinking about pedestrian accidents in North Carolina in general.
Speed Increases Likelihood of Severe Pedestrian Injury
AAA confirms what we all intuitively know – that speed is a major factor contributing to pedestrian accidents and injuries. In fact, increased speed can make a substantial impact on the chances a pedestrian will be killed or badly hurt when struck by a car. Here are the statistics of the potential for chances of serious injury as vehicle speed increases:
- 16 MPH there is a 10% chance
- 23 MPH, there is a 25% chance
- 31 MPH, there is a 50% chance
- 39 MPH, there is a 75% chance
- 46 MPH, there is a 90% chance the pedestrian will be severely injured
Chances of Pedestrian Death Due to Speeding Cars
Here are the chances of the potential for death as vehicle speed increases:
- 23 MPH, there is a 10% chance of death
- 32 MPH, there is a 25% chance of death
- 42 MPH, there is a 50% chance of death
- 50 MPH, there is a 75% chance of death
- 58 MPH, there is a 90% chance of death
NC Among the Least Safe States for Pedestrians
According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, 2,070 pedestrians were injured in crashes in 2020. Over the past five years, North Carolina has averaged nearly 2,500 pedestrian injuries and fatalities in crashes.
When pedestrians are involved in a crash with a motor vehicle, their chances for serious injury are understandably high. 12% of car-pedestrian incidents in 2020 resulted in the death of the pedestrian, about 250 fatalities. Overall, pedestrian deaths were up nearly 8% from 2019.
Where Do Most Pedestrian Collisions Occur in NC?
According to a study by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, from 2008 through 2012, most pedestrian collisions, injuries, and deaths, occurred in our Piedmont region (where most people live), followed by the coastal regions and lastly, the mountain areas. (Although the city of Asheville had the most pedestrian collisions of any North Carolina city.)
More than two-thirds (71%) of North Carolina pedestrian collisions over the past ten years occurred within urban areas, and 29% in unincorporated areas.
Pedestrian Safety Tips
What can pedestrians do to try to stay safe? WatchformeNC.org offers these common-sense pedestrian safety tips:
- Look for cars turning left or right before crossing the street. Don’t assume the driver will stop.
- Before crossing multiple lanes, be sure each lane of traffic is clear before you cross.
- Enhance your visibility at night. Walk in well-lighted areas, carry a flashlight, or wear something reflective, such as stickers or armbands.
- PUT DOWN THE PHONE. Avoid distractions like texting and talking on your cell phone. This diminishes your ability to both hear and see.
- Follow the rules of the road by obeying traffic signs and signals, including pedestrian traffic signals.
- Watch for brake lights on a car, which means that a car is about to back up.
- Cross the street where you have the best view of traffic.
- At bus stops, cross behind the bus or at the nearest crosswalk.
- Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from the roadway as you can.
What to Do if You Suffered a Pedestrian Injury
The most important thing is to seek immediate medical attention and follow doctor’s orders.
If you make a claim against the insurance company they will likely contact you to obtain a recorded statement of what happened at the scene. While this can be a necessary step in the investigative process, the recorded statement can sometimes be a trap. Insurance adjusters may try to use the recorded statement against you when it comes time to settle for monetary damages.
Your best course of action with regard to a recorded statement is to contact us first and see if we can help.