As we’ve mentioned before on this blog, California led the nation last year in the number of fatal pedestrian accidents, with an estimated 701 people killed that way. That number came from a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association, which also found that 70 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
While it’s useful for drivers and pedestrians alike to know they should be extra-vigilant after dark, it’s just as important to understand what they should be looking for. What are the most common scenarios that lead to pedestrian accidents?
According to an analysis by AAA, traffic safety researchers have identified at least six common scenarios to watch out for:
Dart-outs: Pedestrians seemingly appear as if by magic, leaving drivers without time to react. This is often because the driver’s view was obstructed.
Intersection dashes: Like a dart-out but at an intersection, these often occur when pedestrians rush across intersections at the last moment, after drivers think they have checked for pedestrians.
Cars turning or merging: Particularly at busy intersections, drivers and pedestrians alike have a lot to pay attention to, and inattention can be deadly. Drivers are focusing on their turn or on merging, while pedestrians may be running late or trying to catch a bus.
Passing in front of a stopped bus or car: When a passenger exits a bus, or sometimes when a pedestrian is crossing a street, the bus or another vehicle may stop to let them pass — and unwittingly hide them from other drivers. When the pedestrian passes the stopped vehicle and comes back into view, drivers in adjacent lanes can be surprised by their appearance.
Backup accidents: Drivers may be careless in not checking carefully before backing up, but it’s often the case that their view is partially obstructed, especially when it comes to small children or people in wheelchairs. Unless you have a backup camera, backing up requires assessing whether anyone nearby might pass behind your vehicle.
Ice cream truck alert: If you hear the music from an ice cream truck, neighborhood kids can hear it, too. Small children often run to and away from food vending trucks with little thought for traffic.
Both drivers and pedestrians have roles to play in preventing accidents, and understanding how and where these tragedies occur can improve your vigilance.
Source: AAA Exchange, “Pedestrian Collisions,” accessed on Oct. 14, 2015