It should come as no surprise that some of the most vulnerable people on Missouri roads are pedestrians and bicyclists. While motor vehicles have walls, seatbelts, and even airbags to protect them, those who are walking or riding bicycles have no such protection. The best they’ve got to work with are helmets and a bit of padding for their knees and elbows. A collision with the smallest and slowest moving vehicle could cause serious harm for a pedestrian.
Pedestrian Auto Accident Statistics in Missouri and Throughout the US
What you may not know is that pedestrian fatalities are rising in Missouri, with more than 80 occurring in 2016,
alone, accounting for nearly 10% of all fatal accidents. In the United States, there are roughly 5,000 pedestrians killed each year, with a further 65K injuries. The most vulnerable of these individuals are children, who sustain more than $5 billion in medical expenses each year due to pedestrian auto accident injuries.
While children are most vulnerable, they do not account for the largest percentage of pedestrian deaths. Rather, 70% of pedestrian deaths involve adult males between the age of 45 and 50. Adults between the age of 35 and 40 sustain the most pedestrian injuries. It is important to note that many of these individuals are impaired by alcohol, which is involved in 1/3 of all pedestrian accidents and 14% of all pedestrian deaths.
Bicycle Auto Accident Statistics in Missouri and Throughout the US
Those who ride bicycles are slightly less likely to be killed in an auto accident, but just as likely to be injured. In the US, there are more than 50K bicyclist injuries each year (compared to 65K pedestrian injuries each year), though there are roughly 725 bicyclist deaths each year (compared to 5,000 pedestrian deaths each year).
Again, the majority of those who are killed while riding bicycles are between 45 and 50 years old. Further, nearly 90% are men. Alcohol also plays a role in bicycle auto accidents, with about 20% of fatal incidents involving intoxication on the party of the bicyclist and more than 1/3 involving intoxication on the part of the motor vehicle driver.
Efforts to Minimize Pedestrian Auto Accidents in Missouri
The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has issued new tips for pedestrians and bicyclists in an effort to minimize these auto accident injuries and fatalities in Missouri. These tips include avoiding distractions, such as texting and talking on the phone; making efforts to increase visibility, such as brightly colored clothing; using crosswalks at all times and obeying crosswalk signals. They also advise that pedestrians try to make eye contact with drivers, whenever it is possible to do so, to ensure that they are seen. Further, it is recommended that those who are dealing with a broken down vehicle remain inside the vehicle until help arrives, as many pedestrian injuries and deaths occur when a stranded motorist leaves their vehicle.
What Drivers Can Do To Prevent Pedestrian Injuries and Deaths
It is unwise to have a conversation about preventing pedestrian injuries and deaths in Missouri without also discussing what drivers can do bring the numbers down. Pedestrians need to increase their awareness and safety efforts, but drivers are also an obviously important factor in such incidents. The same things that drivers should do to prevent any auto accident will also prevent pedestrian auto accidents, such as driving sober, driving without distractions, and ensuring that they are not drowsy or affected my medications while driving.
Beyond this, drivers should also keep an eye out for pedestrians, especially when approaching crosswalks and areas that are known to have a lot of pedestrian traffic. It is important to approach such areas slowly and cautiously, even if no pedestrians are obviously present. A common example of this would be school zones. The speed limit is reduced in school zones for a reason, and drivers should be extra cautious and attentive in such areas.
Further, drivers should be aware of the state laws concerning pedestrian traffic and how drivers are expected to respond. For example, a driver should always yield the right of way to pedestrians and bicyclists when there are no signals to indicate who has the right of way. Yet, drivers also need to be aware that many pedestrians ignore these signals when they are available, and you should watch out for those who do. Children are especially prone to disobeying traffic signals, as in some cases, they may not fully understand them; or in other cases, they may simply make poor decisions.
For these reasons, even if the traffic signal indicates that the driver has the right of way, the driver would be wise to proceed slowly, attempt to make eye contact with the pedestrian or bicyclist, and make sure that he or she is yielding the right away in accordance with the traffic signal that is indicating that vehicle can safely proceed.
It is also important for drivers to keep their windows and mirrors clean, and to use them to look out for pedestrians, especially when backing up. Using turn signals appropriately is important, too, regardless of whether or not there is any other traffic on the road. These signals communicate with those who are walking or riding bikes, too. Being in the habit of always using your signals is a good way to ensure that you communicate with all drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists even and especially when you cannot see them.
If pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers all take the necessary steps to prevent auto accident injuries and fatalities, then the citizens of Missouri may effectively change the statistics, so that instead of rising, the rates of pedestrian injuries and deaths may fall in 2017.
Were You Involved in a Pedestrian Auto Accident in Missouri?
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a pedestrian or bicycle auto accident in Missouri, contact the attorneys at the Krause & Kinsman Law Firm to schedule a free consultation to discuss your claim. We can help you to recover compensation for your injuries, damages, and even a wrongful death, as the case may be.
Adam Krause is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Adam Krause has made a career of taking complicated litigation and presenting it in the most elementary terms for a jury of your peers to understand. Learn more about his experience here.