We’ve Reached Critical Mass with Pedestrian Deaths

pedestrian accidentsThe United States has a concerning high rate of pedestrian deaths, making pedestrian safety a critical concern. If you were hurt in a collision anywhere in Delaware, Silverman, McDonald & Friedman is here to help. Contact our pedestrian accident attorneys in Wilmington, Newark, or Seaford to learn more.

Walking offers numerous health benefits and contributes to reducing traffic and pollution; however, pedestrians must remain vigilant of their surroundings, particularly when near motor vehicles. Pedestrian accidents involving cars can lead to severe physical injuries, requiring months or even years of recovery. Unfortunately, the number of pedestrians struck by vehicles is the highest it has been in decades.

Per the New York Times, the number of pedestrians struck and killed by vehicles in 2022 was the highest since 1981. The report, published by the Governors Highway Safety Association, revealed that at least 7,508 people were fatally hit while walking in the United States last year. Pedestrian deaths have been steadily rising over the last decade, with a 77 percent increase from 2010 to 2021, compared to only a 25 percent rise in other types of traffic fatalities.

Several factors contributed to this increase, including riskier driving during the pandemic and a lack of awareness and enforcement of pedestrian safety laws. Other developed countries have implemented measures to reduce pedestrian, cyclist, and motorcyclist deaths, such as lowering speed limits, building more protected bike lanes, and enhancing vehicle design safety features.

The report suggested that to address the rising risk for pedestrians, better infrastructure, improved road design with sidewalks and street lighting, and consideration of pedestrian safety in vehicle design are essential. Additionally, focusing on traffic enforcement for dangerous driving behaviors, such as speeding, distracted driving, and impaired driving, could help curb the increase in pedestrian deaths.

How common are pedestrian accidents in Delaware?

Delaware faces a significant challenge with one of the highest per-capita pedestrian fatality rates in the country. However, efforts are being made to address this issue; the Walk Smart campaign, a collaboration between the Office of Highway Safety (OHS) and the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) which started in 2018, focuses on promoting safe walking practices, emphasizing the importance of using crosswalks, yielding to others, and making informed crossing decisions.

The Walk Smart campaign employs a two-pronged approach to improve pedestrian safety. On one hand, law enforcement teams up with State and local authorities to educate the public about safe walking behaviors and enforce pedestrian laws. On the other hand, public awareness activities are utilized to reach a wider audience. Various materials such as DART bus ads, sidewalk decals, door hangers, posters, and flyers featuring the “Walk Smart” message are distributed across the state. Additionally, OHS and DelDOT collaborate with towns to set up pedestrian safety checks in areas with high pedestrian crash rates, providing safety information and reflective items to pedestrians. The goal is to drive change by raising awareness and promoting safer pedestrian practices to reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities and injuries in Delaware.

In 2022, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) launched Phase 1 of the Delaware

Pedestrian Action Plan, which builds on this existing framework and “provides a path for DelDOT to make safe, accessible, connected, and equitable transportation facilities for all.” There are three components:

  1. Review Existing Plans – Synthesize existing DelDOT pedestrian-related planning documents, policies, programs, and initiatives.
  2. Initial Pedestrian Crash Data Analysis – Analyze pedestrian crash data statewide to identify potential pedestrian crash clusters and connectivity needs.
  3. Public Engagement – Develop project website and begin public involvement via online survey and in-person engagement events.

What is a driver’s duty of care to pedestrians?

A driver’s duty of care to pedestrians refers to the legal obligation of drivers to exercise reasonable caution and care when operating their vehicles in areas where pedestrians may be present. Drivers must be attentive, cautious, and vigilant to avoid causing harm to pedestrians and ensure their safety. Some key aspects of a driver’s duty of care to pedestrians include:

  • Yielding to pedestrians. Drivers must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections, especially when pedestrians have a “walk” signal or are crossing with the green light.
  • Avoiding negligent driving. Drivers must not engage in reckless or negligent behaviors that could put pedestrians at risk, such as speeding, distracted driving (e.g., texting while driving), or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Observing traffic signs and signals. Drivers must obey traffic signals and signs that regulate pedestrian crossings, such as stop signs, yield signs, and pedestrian crossing signals.
  • Using caution in residential areas. Drivers should exercise extra caution in residential neighborhoods, school zones, and areas with a high volume of pedestrians, such as parks or shopping centers.
  • Keeping a safe distance. Drivers should maintain a safe following distance from other vehicles, which allows them to respond in time if a pedestrian suddenly enters the roadway.
  • Anticipating pedestrian behavior. Drivers should be aware that pedestrians may not always follow traffic rules perfectly, especially children or elderly individuals, and must be prepared to react accordingly.
  • Using headlights at night. Drivers should use their headlights when visibility is low, such as at night or during adverse weather conditions, to help identify pedestrians on or near the roadway.

Failure to uphold this duty of care can lead to accidents and injuries to pedestrians. If a driver breaches their duty and causes harm to a pedestrian, they may be held liable for the injuries and damages resulting from the accident. Pedestrians also have a responsibility to exercise reasonable care for their safety while crossing roads or walking near traffic, but the primary duty of care in these situations lies with the drivers.

When can a pedestrian hold a driver liable for an accident in Delaware?

A pedestrian can hold a driver liable for an accident when the driver’s negligence or reckless actions directly result in the pedestrian’s injuries or damages. In legal terms, this is known as a personal injury claim. An injured pedestrian may be entitled to seek compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other losses from the driver’s insurance company or through a personal injury lawsuit. It’s crucial for pedestrians involved in accidents to collect evidence, such as witness statements, photos of the scene, and any relevant documents, to support their claim for liability. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney can be beneficial to navigate the legal process and protect their rights.

How can a Delaware pedestrian accident attorney help?

At Silverman, McDonald & Friedman, our pedestrian accident attorneys are dedicated to helping injured pedestrians seek the compensation they deserve after being harmed by a negligent or reckless driver. We understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll that pedestrian accidents can take, and we are here to advocate for your rights and fight for the maximum compensation available to you.

When you choose our law firm, we will start by thoroughly investigating the accident to gather critical evidence, such as witness testimonies, police reports, surveillance footage, and expert analyses. This comprehensive approach allows us to build a strong case on your behalf, clearly demonstrating the driver’s liability and the extent of your injuries.

If a fair settlement cannot be reached, our skilled trial lawyers are prepared to take your case to court to fight for your rights before a judge and jury. We have a successful track record of litigating pedestrian accident cases, and we will use our knowledge and experience to present a compelling case on your behalf.

At Silverman, McDonald & Friedman, we are committed to obtaining justice for injured pedestrians and helping them rebuild their lives after a devastating accident. You don’t have to face the aftermath of a pedestrian accident alone. Let our experienced team of attorneys be your advocates and fight for the compensation you deserve. If you’ve been injured in a pedestrian accident, let the experienced team at Silverman, McDonald & Friedman fight for your rights and help you get the compensation you deserve. To schedule your free consultation, contact us today by calling us at our offices in Wilmington, Newark, and Seaford; or by filling out our contact form.