Pedestrian Safety

For obvious reasons, there’s much more discussion out there about safe driving, or even safe bicycle riding, than there is about being a safe pedestrian. After all, it seems like we should just be able to walk safely down a street, and especially where pedestrians have right of way, walking seems like the safest option. Unfortunately, you can’t count on your surroundings to protect you.

In 2017, there were 5,977 pedestrians killed in traffic accidents in the United States, which averages out to about one death every eighty-eight minutes. On top of this, more than 100,000 pedestrians with nonfatal crash-related injuries were treated in emergency departments. Pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely to be killed in a car crash than the occupants of the vehicle.

Does Alcohol Play a Role in Pedestrian Danger?

Yes, for the obvious – drunk drivers – as well as for the perhaps less obvious – inebriated pedestrians. Nearly half of crashes that have resulted in the death of a pedestrian involved either the pedestrian or the driver having imbibed alcohol before the accident. One-third of crashes fatal to pedestrians involved an inebriated pedestrian with a blood alcohol concentration of at least .08 grams per deciliter. Seventeen percent involved a driver with the same blood alcohol concentration.

Obviously, no one should drive drunk, or even buzzed, or high. Pedestrians who have been imbibing should take a cab or rideshare.

How are More Vulnerable Groups at Risk?

Of all pedestrian deaths from accidents, twenty percent were identified as people over 65 years of age. Of the children under 15 years of age who were killed in traffic accidents in 2017, one in every five were pedestrians. Pedestrians are vulnerable as it is, but falling into these other two categories also poses an additional risk. Keep an eye out for vulnerable pedestrians if you’re walking, and if you’re driving, it should go without saying, but keep an eye out for any and all pedestrians.

Other Pedestrian Safety Information

Speeding is not just a problem for the driver of a car and doesn’t always just result in an inconvenient ticket and fine. The likelihood of a pedestrian being hit by a car increases, the higher the vehicle is traveling, and this also translates to the injury’s severity.

Avoiding certain areas can statistically help your chances, so it might help to know that the majority of pedestrian deaths occur in urban areas, at night. Typically these are also at non-intersection locations, so be sure to cross at designated crosswalks, for your safety, if nothing else.


The responsibility for your own safety, while it is technically in the hands of others, must lie on your shoulders. Staying aware of your surroundings is always helpful, anyway, regardless of your mode of transport, and as a pedestrian, it’s critical to ensure you aren’t the victim of someone else who has decided not to pay attention to the road or to those around them. If you’re on your feet, stay on your toes.

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