Pedestrian accidents: Deadlier than ever?

Wednesday August 18, 2021

Due to preconceived notions, people tend to blame the victim when it comes to pedestrian collisions. Seeing a headline about an injured pedestrian, people automatically wonder why the person wasn’t paying more attention to their surroundings and the traffic rushing past. Unfortunately, pedestrian accidents are more complex than that and often result in fatality.

Experts group the factors that can impact the safety of a pedestrian along Connecticut streets into three categories, including:

  • Pedestrian control: In many situations, pedestrians can have an impact on their own safety. From avoiding distracted walking to making eye contact with a driver before crossing an intersection, pedestrians can take numerous steps to enhance their safety.
  • Driver control: Countless scenarios exist where a speeding or reckless driver caused a devastating collision. Drivers who are distracted, impaired or drowsy often fail to recognize traffic safety signals, marked crosswalks or stopped traffic at an intersection.
  • Traffic control: From poorly lit crosswalks to intersections hidden by foliage, dangerous road design can contribute to the safety of pedestrians in the area.

It is in this final category that the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT) has focused their attention. While examining preliminary crash data across the state, the CDOT reports that pedestrian fatalities have increased by 53% since 2009. There were 65 pedestrian fatalities reported in 2020 alone.

Outside of increased public awareness campaigns and integrated safety programs, the CDOT recommends officials make significant improvements in two areas: traffic speed and road design. “Horizontal deflection,” or traffic chicanes can impact the speed and flow of traffic patterns. Additionally, the use of roundabouts has shown to decrease speed and enhance driver awareness over traditional four-way intersections.

In addition, engineers can ensure that crosswalks are well lit and properly marked with reflective paint, flashing lights and in-road signs.

When a motor vehicle of any type strikes a pedestrian, the results are often catastrophic. From brain damage and paralysis to shattered bones and torn ligaments, pedestrians can suffer serious injuries. In severe situations, the collision can result in fatality.

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