Pedestrians can be careless and often put their own lives in danger, but as a professional driver it is important to do your best to save them from their own mistakes – and to save yourself from an accident that can be both traumatic and damaging to your career.
A comprehensive report issued by the GHSA and funded by a grant from State Farm, called “Everyone Walks: Understanding & Addressing Pedestrian Safety,” included the following steps drivers and pedestrians should heed. The aim, experts say, is to boost awareness for both drivers and pedestrians so they can focus on the things both do that cause injuries and deaths.
For drivers, the top causes of accidents with pedestrians are alcohol, speed and distraction. While this is not news for most people, it bears repeating. It goes without saying that drivers in our industry should not be drinking and driving, but it’s important to remember that, as a vehicle’s speed increases, so does the risk of pedestrian injury. At an impact speed of 17 mph, the average risk of a pedestrian injury is about 10% – at 48 mph, that risk rises to 90%. Additionally, drivers aren’t just distracted by their cell phones. According to NHTSA, 76% of all distraction-affected crashes occurring in 2013 arose from other sources of in-car distraction. These included talking to passengers, putting on makeup, daydreaming or reaching for something in the car while the vehicle was moving.
To avoid pedestrian accidents, it helps to understand that they are caused by similar mistakes made by the pedestrians themselves. Drunkenness and/or distraction factor into a high percentage of pedestrian accidents – so keep a watchful eye for people who may be talking on a phone, chatting with friends or behaving erratically from too much alcohol.
The GHSA report offers the following advice to pedestrians. As a driver (and a pedestrian), you should be aware of them.
Don’t drink and walk: When someone is intoxicated, a decision to walk home instead of driving might sound smart. But it also can be risky. In 2013, 36% of the pedestrians 16 years of age and older who were involved in fatal crashes had a BAC of 0.08 or higher, which is the legal level of intoxication in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. That toll has remained unchanged since 2004, according to calculations by NHTSA and the Automobile Club of Missouri.
The message that walking drunk can be as dangerous as driving drunk needs to be heard, and perhaps potential clients should be reminded of this fact in marketing materials. In addition to pointing out the above statistics, you can advise people who are planning to have drinks, or who find themselves in a situation where they have had too much to drink, that an FHV is a much safer means of getting home than stumbling down the sidewalk.
Take off your headphones and look up from your cell phone: Distracted walking needs as much attention as distracted driving. In 2004, less than 1% of pedestrians were killed while they were using a cell phone. By 2010, it was 3.6%, according to Ohio State University researchers.
Most people think they can multitask, but a Pew Research study suggests not. It found that 53% of adult cell phone users who were talking on a cell phone while they were in motion were either bumped into or bumped into someone or something.
Your walking pace gets slower when you talk on the phone or text, other research suggests. With your eyes on the text screen, you naturally become less aware of traffic.
An overwhelming number of pedestrians are ignoring their surroundings as they walk. Researchers from the University of Georgia observed pedestrians at 20 high-risk intersections and found that 33% were talking to other people, 26% were wearing headphones, 15% were texting, 13% were on their cell phones and 6% were distracted in multiple ways, such as listening to music as they also texted. At a minimum, safety experts suggest, take off your headphones and disengage from your cell phone when you’re crossing streets.