Authorities in Kansas City say that a man was walking on the southbound shoulder of the I-49 on the evening of December 4 when he attempted to cross the highway. The pedestrian entered the path of an oncoming Volkswagen, the driver of which was allegedly unable to avoid colliding with the man. The pedestrian died at the scene near Red Bridge Road, causing a road closure that lasted more than two hours.
This latest pedestrian versus passenger vehicle accident underscores the horrific outcomes that can result when traveling via foot. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are nearly 5,400 pedestrians killed each year in the United States, and another 130,000 are injured. Pedestrian fatalities in Missouri are on the rise; there were 36 such fatalities reported in the first half of 2016, and 44 reported in the first half of 2017.
Darkness, notes the Governors Highway Safety Association, poses a significantly heightened risk for pedestrians. Nearly half of pedestrian fatalities on U.S. roadways and streets occurred between the hours of 6 p.m. and 12 a.m., with around three-fourths of all of those occurring after dark, according to data.
Although authorities did not indicate that alcohol was a factor in the I-49 crash, statistics show that alcohol is involved in 46 percent of pedestrian fatalities. Around 33 percent of these crashes involve pedestrians with BAC levels of 0.08 or greater while 13 percent involve drivers with BACs of 0.08 or greater. At that level, both pedestrians and drivers are inebriated enough to experience diminished abilities to make decisions and react and to use good judgement, notes the Governors Highway Safety Association.
We are all at some point in time pedestrians, whether we travel by foot to get to work or enjoy a stroll through town for exercise. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reminds pedestrians of the need to be proactive for their own safety. Some tips to remember to avoid becoming a statistic:
- Follow the rules of the road; obey signals and signs. Be predictable—do what drivers expect you to do.
- Walk on the sidewalk when it is available; if it is not, then walk facing traffic and get as far away from moving vehicles as you can.
- Stay alert and avoid being on your phone while you’re walking.
- Use crosswalks when they are available. Look left, then right, then left again before crossing to ensure that no oncoming cars are failing to yield as you cross.
- Do not assume that a driver can see what you’re doing. The driver may be distracted—or even drunk.
- Make sure you are as visible as possible. Dress in bright clothing, and at night, carrying a flashlight or wear reflective clothing.
- Be mindful of cars backing up or entering or exiting side streets and driveways.
- Don’t walk impaired by alcohol, drugs or other substances. You need your full faculties when navigating traffic by foot.
If you have been involved in a pedestrian accident, reach out to our Kansas City pedestrian attorney to learn about your legal options.