Which Pedestrians Are Most at Risk of an Accident?

Published on Jan 27, 2022 at 3:12 pm in Pedestrian Accident.


Pedestrians are killed by motor vehicles in the United States in shockingly high numbers. As we will discuss further below, the state of Mississippi and our nation as a whole has experienced a significant upward trend in pedestrian fatality rates over the past several years. In this article, we will discuss which pedestrian groups are most at risk of an accident, where and when fatal collisions are most likely to occur, and the pedestrian accident statistics that indicate a desperate need for better safety measures for those on foot.

At Pittman, Roberts & Welsh, PLLC, we devote an area of our personal injury practice to helping those who were injured in pedestrian vs. car accidents. If you were struck by a car while walking, we may be able to help you recover the compensation you need to cover your injuries and losses.

Types of Pedestrians Most at Risk

The likelihood that a person will be struck by a vehicle depends on multiple factors, including age and gender factors, location and environmental factors, and the involvement of alcohol. Data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives us a better picture of the demographic groups most at risk of being killed by a moving vehicle while on foot. The following information was reported in the NHTSA’s most recent fact report.

  • Children. Children 14 and under accounted for a significant proportion of pedestrian accident deaths. Children are vulnerable to being struck by moving vehicles for a number of reasons. An unfamiliarity with the rules of the road, a lack of understanding about auto safety, inattention, distraction, unpredictable movements, frequent road crossings near schools and school buses, and smaller statures less visible to drivers can all factor into the prevalence of child-involved pedestrian accidents.
  • Older Adults. Adults 65 and older made up 20% of pedestrian accident fatalities, and adults 50-59 comprised roughly the same percentage of deaths during the same time period of research. Adults in their 20s, 30s, and 40s were involved in pedestrian accidents in significantly lower numbers. Adults in their 70s and 80s were also involved in collisions more frequently than adults under 50.
  • Male Pedestrians. Roughly 70% of pedestrians killed in accidents were male. The overall male pedestrian fatality rate per 100,000 population was found to be double the rate for female pedestrian fatality during the same time period. The single category most at risk for fatality by age and gender is male pedestrians 80 and older.
  • Pedestrians Impaired by Drugs or Alcohol. Pedestrians drunk or under the influence of drugs are at higher risk of fatality than those who are sober. Of all reported fatal pedestrian accidents during the period of study, nearly half involved alcohol—on the part of the driver, the pedestrian, or both. Intoxicated pedestrians with a BAC of .08 g/dL or higher were the victims of about 32% of all fatal pedestrian accidents.

Vehicle drivers have a duty to watch out for pedestrians and prevent collisions. But pedestrians should also do their part to keep themselves safe when traveling on foot. This includes planning routes carefully and avoiding hazardous areas that lack sidewalks, wide road shoulders, and safe crosswalks. Walkers should also stay alert and refrain from distractions like texting and walking, or wearing earphones or headphones that can block out the sound of an approaching car. When possible, avoid walking at night. Wear bright clothing and act in a predictable manner, never assuming that a driver will see you.

Where Are Pedestrians Most at Risk?

Where do most pedestrian fatalities and pedestrian injuries occur? There are several environmental factors that contribute to the likelihood of a pedestrian-involved collision. The following statistics are based on the most recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s pedestrian Traffic Safety Facts report.

  • Most pedestrian collisions occur in urban (80%) rather than rural (20%) areas.
  • Only 18% of pedestrian crashes happened at intersections.
  • 75% of pedestrians were struck at nighttime, when it was completely dark. 21% of incidents occurred in the daylight, and 2% at both dusk and dawn.
  • On weekends, most collisions occurred between 9 p.m. and midnight.
  • On weekdays, most collisions occurred between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Over 90% of pedestrian deaths are due to the impact of a single vehicle, not multiple vehicles.
  • In most cases, the front of the vehicle hit the person on foot, rather than the side or rear of the vehicle.
  • The total number of pedestrian deaths was highest in California, Florida, and Texas.
  • North Dakota, Wyoming, and Vermont had the lowest rates of pedestrian fatality.
  • The cities of Los Angeles, Phoenix, and New York City had the highest overall pedestrian death rates, although New York City had the lowest pedestrian fatality rate per 100,000 population.
  • Washington D.C. and Boston had the lowest rates among large cities in the United States.

Pedestrian Accident Statistics

The most recent data on pedestrian traffic fatalities published by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) shows a troubling upward trend in pedestrian fatalities over the past two decades. Between 2009 and 2018 there was an unprecedented 55% increase in pedestrian deaths across the nation. The U.S. DOT preliminary traffic fatalities report for the first half of 2021 showed the largest six-month increase in recorded history.

In a press release, current United States Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg described the present state of pedestrian safety as a “crisis” that should not simply be accepted as a part of everyday life. In light of the situation, it was announced in late 2021 that the U.S. Department of Transportation would initiate the first-ever National Roadway Safety Strategy to identify measures to save lives and prevent pedestrian accidents.

The following statistics can only give some indication of the severity of the problem of pedestrian traffic accidents in the United States.

  • Over 20,000 people died by being struck by a vehicle in the first half of 2021 alone.
  • The fatality rate during the first six months of 2021 was 18.4% higher than the rate during the same time period in 2020.
  • There was a 23% increase in pedestrian fatalities in Mississippi from 2019 to 2020.
  • In 2020, Mississippi ranked 8th highest in the U.S. for pedestrian fatality rate per 100,000 population.
  • Despite a reduction in total vehicle miles traveled after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, pedestrian fatality rates increased.

Pedestrian Accident Law at Pittman, Roberts & Welsh, PLLC

At Pittman, Roberts & Welsh, PLLC, we defend the rights of pedestrians in Mississippi. If you were injured or lost a loved one in a car vs. pedestrian accident, contact our office to learn more about how we may be able to help you and your family recover.

We offer a free consultation form where you can provide initial information about the details of your situation. You may be eligible to recover damages after an injury. A personal injury lawyer with experience handling pedestrian-involved accidents will be in touch to schedule a consultation. The pedestrian accident lawyers from Pittman, Roberts & Welsh, PLLC have the knowledge and experience necessary to represent you after an accident caused by a negligent driver.

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