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Tips for Pedestrians and Drivers to Keep Each Other Safe

Jason Reese

Downtown Indianapolis Is One-Step Closer to Becoming Pedestrian Friendly

Residents living on the North side of downtown Indianapolis and those who travel through the Fall Creek Boulevard area, as well as drivers who use the Delaware Street Bridge, are hopeful that the often congested and confusing interchange known as “The Spider” can once and for all be released of its reputation as a major Indianapolis hazard to pedestrians. The Department of Public Works says the road construction project is now complete and the web of intersections, mixed signage and traffic lights, along many of its “legs” have now been removed and more pedestrian crosswalks and signals have been added. Access to Washington Boulevard and Talbott Street has also been cut off, making the area much easier for pedestrians to access. “The Spider’s” recent $541,000 traffic upgrade will also help drivers navigate the city more carefully.

Most Pedestrian Accidents Are Caused By The Driver

Many pedestrian accidents are caused by the driver of the vehicle, leaving little room for the pedestrian to avoid the incident. In Indiana, it is the law that vehicles must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians walking within a crosswalk that are in the same half of the roadway as the vehicle or when a pedestrian is closely approaching. Other laws that have been created to keep Hoosiers safe include:

  • Vehicles approaching a yield sign must yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian legally crossing the roadway.
  • Pedestrians may not suddenly leave the curb and enter a crosswalk into the path of a moving vehicle that is so close to constitute an immediate hazard. Pedestrians must yield the right-of-way to vehicles when crossing outside of a marked crosswalk or an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.
  • Where traffic control devices are in operation, pedestrians may only cross between two adjacent intersections in a marked crosswalk and may only cross an intersection diagonally if authorized by a traffic control device.

The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) Traffic Safety Division’s (TSD) 2016 Annual Traffic Safety Report states that in 2015, there were 95 pedestrian fatalities across the state. Therefore, the target of 57 or fewer pedestrian fatalities in 2015 was not met. In most pedestrian vs. car accident cases, the driver was liable, even when the pedestrian may have been negligent.

Common Driver Errors That Cause Pedestrian Injuries or Fatalities

Often, there can be more than one factor playing into a pedestrian vs. vehicle accident. Some of the more common driver errors causing pedestrian injury or fatality include:

Inexperienced or New Drivers: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and many other organizations find repeatedly that age 16 thru 19-year-olds are responsible for more accidents than any other age group, and that two-thirds of all serious crashes involving teenagers are caused by critical errors.

Illegal U-Turns: U-turns can be dangerous, especially in locations where they are not allowed. U-turns are often illegal in areas where low visibility or speed of traffic prevents the necessary observation for safe turning.

Failure to Follow School Zone Driving Practices: Each year, there are many pedestrian accidents during the hectic minutes before and after school, as parents fight long lines of cars (often in small neighborhood spaces) in order to get their students to school on time. There also remain far too many cases of cars attempting to drive around school buses while children are disembarking. Though many school zone accidents are minor, accidents involving students leaving buses are often deadly.

Failure to Make A Full Stop at Intersections: The rolling stop may feel like a harmless infraction, but stop signs and traffic signals exist for a reason, namely to force drivers to stop and take full account of their surroundings – including pedestrians – before moving forward.

Speeding, Driving Under the Influence of Drugs of Alcohol, and Distracted Driving: These are the big three of car crashes, with distracted driving making a clear headway as the main cause in many car accidents. Pedestrians are even more vulnerable to drivers engaged in one or more of these activities, and their sustained injuries can be far more serious if not deadly.

Smart Pedestrians Are Safe Pedestrians

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends the following safety steps and precautions for any person on foot, walking, running, jogging, hiking, sitting, or lying down near a roadway.

  • Avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Avoid dark clothing, especially if traveling at night. Bright clothing will ensure you visibility in the day.
  • Avoid using distractors like phones or radios.
  • Be vigilant about sharing the road with cars and never assume a driver sees you.
  • Don’t be unpredictable. Cross at crosswalks or other places on the road where drivers expect to see pedestrians.
  • Reflective clothing and/or carrying a flashlight is highly encouraged at night.
  • Stay off of freeways, restricted-access highways and other pedestrian-prohibited roadways.
  • Walk on a sidewalk if available, and if not, walk on the shoulder, facing traffic.

There are other very basic ways to become a more mindful pedestrian and travel safely while walking, even in congested areas similar to the “The Spider.”

Check For Cars In All Directions, Even If At A Walk Signal: It is critical to look in all directions when crossing, even if you are at a crosswalk with a walk signal.

Cross in Safe Places: It is a terrible and potentially disastrous idea to dart across a road quickly because you cannot see in one or both directions. Unless you can see in both directions, you should not cross.

Keep Your Eyes Up: For children and adults alike, this doesn’t just apply to electronics. Keep your head up and stay alert to your environment.

Understand the Movement of Traffic at Any Given Location: While we certainly wish otherwise, it is not safe to assume a driver will yield the right of way to a pedestrian. Take a moment to notice traffic patterns and always watch for vehicles.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, the personal injury attorneys at Wagner Reese are here to assist you with your recovery. We can help determine fault in the accident, as well as work to help secure the compensation you deserve so you can make a full recovery. Give us a call today at (888) 204-8440 for a free consultation.

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