Avoiding Pedestrian Accidents

April 13, 2016

No one heads out for a walk thinking that it may end in a pedestrian accident. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happens to dozens of pedestrians every year in Massachusetts.

Pedestrian fatalities comprised approximately a fifth of all traffic fatalities in Massachusetts in a year, according to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. According to the Boston Public Health Commission, there were 1,166 pedestrians taken to the hospital for an accident involving a motor vehicle the year before the Walk This Way – Pedestrian Safety campaign started.

If you live in Boston, following the traffic laws that apply to pedestrians, planning safe routes and remaining alert for cars can help you avoid pedestrian accidents. Here is a brief guide to pedestrian safety:

Cross at Crosswalks

One of the safest things that a pedestrian can do to reduce the risk of being involved in an accident is to use a crosswalk when crossing the street. The Boston Public Health Commission notes that only 12 percent of pedestrians waited for the ‘Walk’ signal when crossing the street. Failing to wait for the appropriate Walk signal is dangerous and illegal too. While waiting for the walk signal may mean an extra couple of minutes of your time, it could help you avoid being struck by a vehicle when trying to cross an intersection.

Put Away Distractions

Most people are aware of the dangers of distracted driving. But distracted walking can be equally as detrimental to safety. A study published in ScienceDirect – Distraction and pedestrian safety: How talking on the phone, texting, and listening to music impact crossing the street – concluded that  individuals who are distracted look away from the street more often,” and that listening to music or sending text messages while walking increase the likelihood of collision with vehicles.

When you are on your phone, texting, or listening to music, you may be unable to hear or see an oncoming vehicle. In addition, these devices distract you cognitively as well, potentially impairing your ability to make smart decisions. If you are distracted while texting, you may mistakenly begin to cross a street when the traffic signal indicates that you should not do so.

Know Pedestrian Laws

Another way to keep yourself safe while walking is to understand pedestrian laws in Massachusetts, and your rights and responsibilities while walking. While pedestrians are quick to blame the driver of a vehicle for causing – or nearly causing – a pedestrian accident, pedestrians themselves are most often to blame for these accident types.

According to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 89 – Laws of the Road, the driver of a motor vehicle is required to yield to a pedestrian when the pedestrian is crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk. No driver shall proceed through the crosswalk until the pedestrian has safely crossed and there is enough space for the vehicle to pass safely.

Traffic Rules and Regulations – City of Boston, indicated that the driver of a vehicle shall yield to a pedestrian who is a approaching a driveway within five feet. The law states that a pedestrian shall not cross a roadway except at a marked crosswalk if there is a designated crossing area within 300 feet except within the marked crosswalk, tunnel, or overpass. A pedestrian is required to adhere to traffic control signals, to avoid walking or running into the path of a vehicle, to refrain from standing in the street, and to avoid walking in the roadway.

Stick to Safer Streets

By following traffic safety guidelines, the chances of being involved in a pedestrian accident will be greatly reduced. Another tip for pedestrian safety is to stick to walking on safer streets in the city. An article published in Boston Magazine found that the Boston-Cambridge metro area is the safest in the nation for pedestrians, and for a very specific reason: the older, more compact, and smaller streets. Unlike wider roads in newer cities – like Orlando, which has one of the worst rates of pedestrian fatalities in the United States – the more narrow streets in Boston were not designed to move automobile traffic at a high rate of speed. Motorists must travel more slowly and use more caution. Walking in the older parts of the city may serve you well.

Other Safety Tips When Walking

Other safety tips while walking in Boston include the following:

  • Look both ways before crossing the street, and listen for the sounds of oncoming vehicles;
  • Hold children’s hands while crossing;
  • Walk, do not run, when crossing. Running increases the risk of tripping, which could be catastrophic;
  • Walk sober. If you are intoxicated, refrain from crossing streets;
  • Wear bright and reflective clothing when walking at night to help drivers see you; and
  • Stick to pedestrian safety zones or designated walking paths whenever possible.

Pedestrian Accident Lawyers Boston – What to Do When You Are Injured

No one anticipates being involved in a pedestrian accident. If this has happened to you, you may have a claim for damages. Because fault is not always clear, it is important that you have an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer on your side who can investigate the cause of your accident, get to the bottom of who is at fault, and help you to file a claim for damages against the appropriate party.

At Michael Kelly Injury Lawyers, our personal injury attorneys know how tragic some pedestrian accidents can be. We also know that whether you are the victim of a pedestrian accident, or a surviving family member of an individual who has been killed in a pedestrian accident, you have recourse against the at-fault party. Let us help you. Contact our offices today to schedule a free case consultation. You can tell us more about your claim by filling out our online form, or calling our offices directly.

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Michael D. Kelly has a diverse background that provides a breadth of legal knowledge that he draws upon in serving his clients. Kelly compiled an excellent academic record during his three years at New England Law in Boston.