The quest for more safety from accidents for Ohio pedestrians

Data from Akron, Ohio, sheds light on pedestrian accident causes.

In greater Akron, Ohio, almost half of pedestrian-vehicle accidents were attributed to driver fault, according to the Pedestrian Related Traffic Crashes 2010-2012 report from the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study, reported the Akron
Beacon Journal in April 2014.

AMATS is the federally required Akron-area metropolitan planning organization for transportation projects.

In the rest of the accidents, 34 percent were the fault of pedestrians themselves and in almost one-fifth, fault was uncertain. The Akron Beacon Journal cited the study's findings:

  • Pedestrian accidents spiked at times when young people would be likely to be walking to and from school.
  • Roughly one-third of pedestrian accident victims tracked were ages 11 to 20.
  • Most pedestrian accidents happened at intersections, with roughly one-fifth occurring elsewhere on the block.
  • When vehicle operators were at fault in intersection accidents with pedestrians, it was most often during left turns.

The Akron finding of danger to pedestrians at intersections is supported by a 2011 City of Chicago study reported in the Chicago Tribune, in which about 80 percent of pedestrian-vehicle accidents happened there, often when walkers were in crosswalks obeying crossing signals. That study found "drivers failing to yield" was the leading cause of pedestrian accidents.

So what do these studies tell Ohio pedestrians? To maximize safety, they need to be defensive when walking, even when they are obeying traffic laws, because car and truck drivers often do not properly yield to pedestrians with tragic results.

More broadly, walkers must minimize distractions so that they are aware of the traffic patterns and safety hazards around them. When walking, a pedestrian should not text, read or talk on a cell phone, for example. When mentally occupied by something other than walking (or running), a pedestrian can make a careless, unsafe decision or be less likely to notice that a vehicle's driver is about to do the same.

From a legal standpoint, it is important for the victim of a pedestrian-car accident to engage an experienced personal injury lawyer early on to launch an investigation on the injured person's behalf. Fault may not always be obvious. For example, was the pedestrian forced to cross the street at an unsafe location because of a condition (think snow or ice, bad road or sidewalk maintenance and so on) that was someone else's fault?

As the AMATS director pointed out in the Akron Beacon Journal article, sometimes "conditions ... are so unfriendly and difficult to navigate you are giving people no choice other than to jaywalk." A skilled attorney can assess whether a third party was responsible for an unsafe condition that contributed to the cause of an accident.

Other potentially responsible parties in pedestrian accidents are the employers of drivers who are on duty, car or truck repairers who may have negligently contributed to equipment failure or manufactures that created faulty or dangerous vehicles.

Of course, legal counsel will look at the driver him or herself. Was he or she under the influence of alcohol or drugs? Was vehicle operator fatigue a factor in the crash? Did the driver disobey any traffic laws like speed limits or yielding requirements, and was there a legal citation issued? Was the operator somehow otherwise negligent, including having texted while driving?

Finally, a seasoned personal injury lawyer can communicate with insurance companies and other parties involved on the pedestrian victim's behalf. Legal counsel can help the victim of a pedestrian-vehicle accident decide whether a lawsuit is appropriate, can negotiate on his or her behalf and take the matter to trial if necessary.

Keywords: Ohio, pedestrian accident, fault, intersection, left turn, jaywalk