How can you improve your ability to spot pedestrians on the road?

Wednesday October 14, 2020

A motor vehicle can do substantial damage to personal property if you get into a crash, but it can also cause devastating injuries to a person if you strike a pedestrian instead of a vehicle. As a conscientious and safe driver, you probably want to do everything in your power to prevent a pedestrian crash while you’re driving.

One common factor that drivers often report after they cause a pedestrian collision is that they didn’t see the pedestrian prior to striking them with their vehicle. What are some steps that you can take to ensure you don’t miss the presence of a pedestrian until it’s too late? 

Start actively reminding yourself to scan areas as you drive

Research about how drivers fail to register the presence of pedestrians has shown that it often has to do with the focus of the driver’s eyes. Many drivers focus directly on the road ahead of them, which means they may not notice pedestrians approaching the curb because they are slightly off to the side.

Looking from side to side, especially as you approach intersections, can help you spot pedestrians nearby. By mentally practicing intentional scans of areas around your vehicle, you can increase the likelihood that you will notice the motion of someone approaching the road.

Pay special attention to the left, especially as it gets darker

Many pedestrians don’t stop to think about how visible they are to you, which might mean that they walk dangerously close to the edge of the road, break traffic rules by walking away from traffic or even wear dark clothes while walking late at night.

You can generally only see what street lights and your headlight illuminate, and you may struggle to see pedestrians who are off to the side of the road. Drivers can only see objects once they are dangerously close to the vehicle, and the distance at which drivers typically notice a person is twice as far on the right as the left. In other words, driving at night requires extra attention for pedestrians, especially those who may be on your left side.

Sadly, even with drivers doing everything that they can to be safe, some pedestrians will still wind up hit and possibly hurt in pedestrian crashes. These victims often have the right to file an insurance claim, if not a civil lawsuit, against the driver who didn’t notice them.

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