Avoiding Injuries to Pedestrians
It is a dubious distinction that four of the five most dangerous states for walking in the United States are located along the Gulf Coast. Unfortunately, Louisiana ranks high on the list of most dangerous states for pedestrians. In fact, Louisiana is #4 in the country for pedestrian fatalities, based on research released by Smart Growth America, a nonprofit that aims to improve development and land use nationwide. Florida came in #1 in the survey followed by Alabama, Delaware, Louisiana and Mississippi. Texas is ranked #8.
Most dangerous states for walking in the United States:
1 Florida 5,433
2 Alabama 841
3 Delaware 250
4 Louisiana 1,047
5 Mississippi 551
6 Georgia 1,782
7 New Mexico 537
8 Texas 4,831
Source: Smart Growth America, Dangerous by Design 2019
These are alarming statistics that should concern all of us. As personal injury attorneys at Joseph Joy and Associates, we have dedicated our law practice to helping those injured due to the negligence or someone else. This most recent pedestrian-safety data caught our attention because it flagged a serious safety issue for pedestrians in our communities. We are disappointed to see that our state capital, Baton Rouge, was listed as 12th on the list of most dangerous metro areas for walking. From 2008-2017, there were 1,047 pedestrian fatalities in Louisiana.
The Advocate newspaper reported in an article on Nov. 27, 2018 that 41 pedestrians have been struck in 38 accidents on the campus of LSU in the last five years. So, the issue of pedestrian safety is pervasive and should concern all of us, especially as more and more communities are integrating green and pedestrian-friendly routes.
“This is happening because our streets, which we designed for the movement of vehicles, have not changed. In fact, we are continuing to design streets that are dangerous for all people. Furthermore, federal and state policies, standards, and funding mechanisms still produce roads that prioritize high speeds for cars over safety for all people. To reverse this trend and save lives, we need to protect all users of the transportation system through our policies, programs, and funding.” says Smart Growth America.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) insists that “everyone is a pedestrian.” Motorists should always be on the lookout for pedestrians. It also offers these tips:
- Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals. Pedestrians should not jump in front of vehicles or bicycles. No surprises!
- Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available.
- If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
- Keep alert at all times; don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road. Not texting and walking! Keep your head up!
- Whenever possible, cross streets at crosswalks or intersections, where drivers expect pedestrians. Look for cars in all directions, including those turning left or right.
- If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross safely; continue watching for traffic as you cross.
- Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach to make sure you are seen.
- Be visible at all times. Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.
- Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways, or backing up in parking lots.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your abilities and your judgment.
Louisiana law imposes certain duties upon pedestrians to act smart.* If a sidewalk is provided, use it. Do not walk on the side of the road. If you must walk on the side of a roadway, walk only on the left side, facing traffic. And, never, ever cross an interstate on foot.
Don’t let your guard up simply because you may be in a parking lot or on private property. Motorists are coming and going, backing up and out and may not see a pedestrian. Rear view cameras have helped make these scenarios safer. As of May 2018, NHTSA required rear view video systems (RVS), also known as a backup camera in all automobiles. Backup camera technology helps prevent back-over crashes and protects the most vulnerable —children and senior citizens. By providing an image of the area behind the vehicle, backup cameras help drivers see behind the vehicle. They help drivers see in what previously were blind spots. However, the use of a back up camera does not absolve drivers of their responsibility to use their rear view mirror and to be on the lookout for pedestrians.
*RS 32:216 — Pedestrians on highways or interstate highways
- Where sidewalks are provided, it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent highway.
- Where sidewalks are not provided, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall, when practicable, walk only on the left side of the highway or its shoulder, facing traffic which may approach from the opposite direction.
- It shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to cross an interstate highway, except in the case of an emergency.
- Upon conviction of a violation of this Section, a court may order, in lieu of the penalty provisions provided in R.S. 32:57, that the offender perform three eight-hour days of court-approved community service activities, at least half of which shall consist of participation in a litter abatement or collection program.
Acts 1962, No. 310, §1; Acts 2001, No. 585, §1.
At Joseph Joy & Associates, we have recovered millions of dollars in damages for clients who have been seriously injured due to the negligence of someone else. If you have the unfortunate experience of being a pedestrian involved in an accident with personal injury or significant property damage, give us a call: 337-232-8123 or visit us at 900 S. College Rd., Ste. 204, Lafayette, LA.