You may have seen brief stories in your local news. A single-vehicle crash claims the life of a pedestrian. In one recent case, a Tuskegee resident was walking on U.S. 29 near Chisholm Park when she was killed by a driver who didn’t even stop.
In another case, a pedestrian was killed by a hit-and-run driver around 3:30 in the morning on U.S. 29 South. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
These regrettable and tragic stories leave a family grieving with no answers. But who is at fault, and can the injured receive compensation?
Pedestrian Accidents Are Growing
A pedestrian is defined as anyone walking, sitting on the side of the road, or jogging, in other words, foot traffic. Bicycles or skateboards are not included in the statistics.
Whether walking in Tuskegee and the surrounding area, federal statistics show that pedestrian fatalities are rising. There was a jump of 21 percent in pedestrian fatalities from 2019 to 2020, according to data from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association.
Alabama is the 9th most dangerous for walking pedestrians. According to the GHSA, 2020 saw the largest-ever annual increase in pedestrian fatalities resulting in 114 killed on Alabama roads.
Nationally, at least 4,000 pedestrians die every year from traffic-related injuries.
Why is this happening?
In some cases, people take to walking for exercise. On the other hand, many of these pedestrian fatalities occur at night. Walking home in the dark may indicate you do not have transportation.
Visibility is poorer at night, and it is also highly likely that you or the driver are under the influence. Statistics indicate that about one-third of fatally injured pedestrians had a high blood alcohol concentration.
Black, Indigenous, and people of color account for the more significant proportion of pedestrian deaths.
A driver with any amount of blood alcohol has a diminished capacity to make sound judgments and react in a timely manner.
A pedestrian’s most common injuries are traumatic brain, chest, and musculoskeletal injuries.
How to Reduce Pedestrian Fatalities and Injuries
Traffic engineers are considering many changes to roadways and design, including increasing street lighting and traffic signals to serve transportation by foot better.
As an alternative to walking, public transportation in Tuskegee includes a shuttle service for students at Tuskegee University and a shuttle to Atlanta Hartsfield airport. Also, a Greyhound Bus Line stops at the University.
Pedestrian education recommends staying in your car if you are stopped alongside the road. About 10 percent of roadway fatalities occur when people linger on the side of the road.
Pedestrians trying to cross a busy street are safer when there is a raised median so they can cross in two steps. This is particularly helpful for those individuals who cannot walk quickly.
Child education programs reinforce the idea of a designated crossing area and that children should never dart out between cars. Everyone must remember the dangers of walking under the influence, especially if you have earbuds that interfere with hearing traffic.
And most importantly, as a pedestrian, make sure you are not distracted by your smartphone. Keep headphone use to a minimum, too, so you can hear your surroundings.
In 2020, 62 percent of all fatal pedestrian crashes were caused by pedestrians. If you are not following these commonsense behaviors, you could lose any opportunity to be compensated for an accident caused by a driver.
Avoiding Pedestrian Accidents
When you are walking in Tuskegee or the surrounding area, there are many things you can do to stay safe. According to the Alabama Department of Transportation, the majority of Alabama car crashes with pedestrians were the fault of the pedestrians in 2019.
The Center for Advanced Public Safety at the University of Alabama studies crash data and finds:
- Ages 31-40 represent the group with the highest number of pedestrian injuries in 2020
- The 51-60 age group, this group had the highest number of pedestrian fatalities
- To keep safe, wear reflective clothing and cross at designated crosswalks or intersections
- Walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, face traffic and walk as far as possible from the road
- Do not walk distracted by drugs or on the phone
- Do not walk at night
- Drivers need to be aware of pedestrians and stop at all crosswalks
- Drivers should always slowdown in areas where children may be present or in congested neighborhoods
Alabama Pedestrian Laws
Under Alabama law, a driver must yield the right of way to pedestrians in the crosswalk. Outside of the crosswalk, the driver has the right-of-way.
- A pedestrian should not suddenly leave the curb or any other safe place to run into the path of a vehicle.
- A pedestrian must obey all traffic-control signals.
- The pedestrians must not walk on an adjacent roadway if a sidewalk is available.
- Pedestrians may not hitchhike under Alabama law.
- Anyone under the influence must not walk on an Alabama highway.
Under Alabama’s pure contributory negligence standard, any pedestrian hit by a vehicle may lose his chance for recovery if he violated any rules initiated to keep pedestrians safe.
Your Alabama Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
Motor vehicle drivers must drive reasonably when using the roads we all share. We will determine who is at fault if a driver hits a pedestrian.
Was the pedestrian crossing at a designated crosswalk, or did he dart between cars? If the pedestrian is not at fault and the driver caused the injuries or death, you may have an action against the at-fault driver.
In that case, you may be able to recover lost wages, medical bills, the cost of rehabilitation, or in the case of death, funeral expenses. If the defendant acted intentionally, punitive damages may be assessed to punish the defendant for his actions.
Attorney of Law Chip Nix has four decades of experience helping others, and our firm is dedicated to helping you during this difficult time. Remember that Alabama has a statute of limitation, meaning you have two years from the accident within which to file your claim.
Let Mr. Nix help offer you options during a complimentary meeting. Call 334-203-6669 so you can have a better understanding of how to navigate your future.
C.A. J of Emergency Medicine