Five Things You Need to Know About Pedestrian Accidents

June 17, 2015

pedestrian hit by carAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) most recent statistical report, 4,735 people were killed in pedestrian accidents during 2013, accounting for 14 percent of the total 32,719 traffic fatalities. Close to 66,000 (three percent) of the 2,313,000 people injured in vehicle-related collisions that year were pedestrians.

While the number of pedestrian fatalities decreased from the previous year, the volume of pedestrian-involved accidents indicates a continued risk to those people who enjoy walking in Boston and other U.S. cities. If you or a loved one is a walker in Boston, you can dramatically reduce your risk of suffering a vehicle-related injury when you know these five facts about pedestrian accidents.

1. Vehicle Type Can Effect Severity of Injuries
The type of vehicle involved in a pedestrian accident has a significant impact on the severity of injuries. The impact point, and whether the accident involved a single vehicle or multiple vehicles, can also mean the difference between a pedestrian sustaining relatively minor injuries and fatal injuries.

In 2013, 92 percent of those fatally injured were involved in single-vehicle pedestrian accidents, while the remaining eight percent were multi-vehicle collisions.

Front impact collisions were far more common than rear or side impact crashes. Passenger vehicles, SUVs, pickup trucks and vans accounted for the majority of front impact collisions resulting in pedestrian fatalities. Larger trucks and buses were more likely to be involved in rear or right-side impacts as well as in front impact collisions.

Vehicle TypeTotal Pedestrian FatalitiesFront Impact (%)Right Side Impact (%)Left Side Impact (%)Rear Impact (%)
car iconPassenger vehicle1,73390.7%2.0%1.0%1.3%
truck iconLight trucks/SUVs1,76388.7%2.9%1.6%2.1%
concrete mixer iconLarge Trucks28371.0%6.7%3.9%7.4%
bus iconBuses6468.8%9.4%4.7%6.3%

2. The Role of Alcohol in Pedestrian Accidents
The involvement of alcohol can play a significant role in pedestrian accidents. In 2013, the NHTSA reported that 49 percent of fatal pedestrian accidents involved alcohol use by either the driver or the pedestrian. In 15 percent of these accidents, the driver had a BAC of 0.08 or higher. In close to 34 percent of fatal pedestrian collisions, the pedestrian had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher.

Pedestrian AgeNumber of FatalitiesPercent with 0.00 BACPercent with 0.01-0.07 BACPercent with 0.08+ BAC
85 and older1419613

3. Gender and Age of the Majority of Pedestrian Accident Victims
Males accounted for approximately two-thirds (3,247) of the 4,735 pedestrians killed in motor vehicle accidents. The male pedestrian fatality rate is a little more than two times that of the female pedestrian fatality rate per 100,000 population. The injury rate for male pedestrians is also about 1.3 times greater than for females. Pedestrians 40 years of age and older have higher fatality rates, whereas pedestrians between the ages of 10 and 29 have a higher rate of injury.

GenderInjuredInjury RateFatalitiesFatality Rate
male symbol37,000243,2472.09
female symbol29,000181,4820.92


Age (Years)InjuredInjury RateFatalitiesFatality Rate
Children ≤ 1410,000172360.39
>Seniors 65+7,000158962.00

4. Where Most Pedestrian Accidents Occur

On average, more pedestrian accidents occur in urban areas (73 percent) than in rural areas (27 percent).. Non-intersections were the location of 69 percent of the pedestrian accidents in 2013, while 20 percent took place in intersections. The remainder occurred in parking lanes, bicycle lanes, along the shoulder of a road, on sidewalks, on medians, along pathways or trails, and in other non-traffic passageways.

intersection accident statistics

The NHTSA reports that California, Florida and Texas are the states with the most pedestrian fatalities in 2013, and Delaware and Florida had the highest pedestrian fatality rates (per 100,000). In the state of Massachusetts, 68 people lost their lies in pedestrian accidents and the state’s pedestrian fatality rate (per 100,000) was 1.02. Pedestrian accidents in Massachusetts accounted for 20.9 percent of the total vehicle-related fatalities.

The national average for the pedestrian fatality rate in cities during 2013 was 1.50 (per 100,000 population). In Boston, seven people were killed in pedestrian accidents, which accounted for 43.8 percent of the total traffic-related fatalities. The pedestrian fatality rate in Boston was lower than the national average, at 1.08.

5. Time of Day When Pedestrian Accidents Take Place
More fatal pedestrian accidents occur in the overnight hours (72 percent), than during the daylight hours (25 percent), at dawn (two percent) and at dusk (two percent) combined. The time of day when the majority of pedestrians are killed in vehicle-related accidents varies depending on the time of year.

Most fatal pedestrian accidents in winter take place between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 8:59 p.m. In the spring, 25 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur between 9:00 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. Pedestrian fatalities in the summer months were most likely to occur between 9:00 p.m. and 11:59 p.m., as well. During the fall months, 31 percent of fatalities involving pedestrians take place from 6:00 p.m. to 8:59 p.m.

On the weekends, the highest number of pedestrian fatalities take place between 6:00 p.m. and 11:59 p.m., whereas during the week, the majority of fatalities occur between 6:00 p.m. to 8:59 p.m.

time of day statistic

Important Safety Reminders for Pedestrians

Pedestrians who are aware of when and where most pedestrian accidents take place, as well as how vehicle size and the involvement of alcohol contribute pedestrian fatalities, will be better equipped to protect themselves from injury or harm. These are some of the important safety reminders for pedestrians to keep at top of mind:

    • Always walk on a sidewalk or along a designated path, when available.
    • In cases where no sidewalk or path exists, walk along the shoulder of the road against the flow of traffic.


  • Avoid distractions such as cell phones, electronic devices, MP3 players or iPods while walking. These devices can cause you to take your eyes, ears and attention off the road, thus making you more susceptible to becoming the victim of a pedestrian accident.
  • Never make the assumption that a driver can see you. Be sure to make eye contact and wait for the vehicle to slow down or stop before crossing.
  • Your behavior should always be predictable. Cross at designated crosswalks, yield to traffic in intersections and avoid jaywalking whenever possible.
  • Make yourself visible to traffic by wearing bright clothing in the daylight hours, and reflective material on your clothing at night.
  • When walking at night, be sure to carry a flashlight.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol or taking drugs before going on a walk, as these substances can impair your judgment and reaction time.

Important Safety Reminders for Drivers

Drivers have a responsibility to be alert for pedestrians at all times when driving. If you are planning to drive in Boston, or along any of the highways and roads throughout Massachusetts, you can minimize your risk of being involved in a pedestrian accident by:

  • Always coming to a stop and giving the right of way to pedestrians at crosswalks.
  • Watching out for pedestrians, even in places where you may not expect them. This is particularly important at dawn, dusk, during evening hours or when weather is poor.
  • Avoid passing any vehicle that has come to a stop at a crosswalk or intersection, as the driver may have come to a stop to allow a pedestrian to cross.
  • When approaching a turn or intersection, always be prepared to slow down and stop for pedestrians.
  • Never drink and drive, or drive under the influence of a controlled substance.
  • Adhere to posted speed limit signs at all times.
  • Slow down in school zones or when children are present. Staying alert in these neighborhoods can help prevent causing injury or death to a young child.


  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Traffic Safety Facts 2013 Data: Pedestrians

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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.