By Marcus Fernandez
It’s unfortunate, but Tampa has seen a number of recent pedestrian accidents. Crosswalk accidents and bus stop accidents have dominated headlines and raised awareness of a problem that has grown increasingly troublesome over the past decade. While local organizations, city and state agencies are all working to help curtail issues that have contributed to these accidents, we hear of pedestrians being injured or killed almost daily in Tampa Bay.
The growth of urban areas like downtown Tampa, the rising cost of gas and insurance, along with the desire to get more exercise, is prompting some Floridians to walk more than ever. Walking can be a great way to lose weight, reduce stress, and lessen the risk of developing serious disease. It can, sometimes, be hazardous as well, particularly when sharing the road with motor vehicles. State and federal law hold both motorists and pedestrians to certain standards of behavior to ensure that both parties remain safe.
All drivers must follow certain laws, including:
- Yield the right-of-way to pedestrians when they have entered the same half of the roadway in either a controlled or uncontrolled/unmarked crosswalk
- Refrain from driving while intoxicated or distracted and do everything possible to avoid a collision with a pedestrian
- Yield right-of-way to a pedestrian when he or she approaches a crosswalk from the opposite side of the road (Florida Statute 316.30)
- Slow down or stop before proceeding to pass another vehicle until determining if the driver of that car has stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the street
- Stop for a school crossing guard and remain stopped until the guard and all children have safely crossed to the other side of the road
Failing to obey pedestrian laws can be costly. Drivers who fail to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk could face a fine of at least $163.
Pedestrians must follow traffic safety laws as well. These include:
- Cross at a controlled or uncontrolled intersection and never in the middle of the street
- Not walk directly in the path of an oncoming car if it would create an unreasonable safety hazard
- Allow cars to pass first in an unmarked crosswalk or when walking outside of the markings of a marked crosswalk
- Not cross a street diagonally at a controlled intersection unless the traffic control device explicitly allows
- Not cross more than two adjoining intersections when using a marked crosswalk
- Walk facing traffic on the left side of the street if it does not contain any sidewalks
When a driver strikes a pedestrian, he or she must stop the car immediately and render aid. Failure to do so could result in a serious charge of hit and run. Both parties must cooperate with the police as well and provide truthful answers for the accident report.
What Causes Pedestrian Accidents?
Collisions between pedestrians and vehicles can occur for a variety of reasons, many of which fall into the category of negligence. When caused by drivers, the most common reasons for these serious pedestrian accidents include:
- Drivers making turns before the pedestrian has safely reached the other side of the road
- Not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign or traffic light or failing to stop at all
- Speeding through intersections
- Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Failing to anticipate pedestrians in a crosswalk and proceeding through as if only cars used it
- Driving while distracted, including talking on a cell phone, texting, turning to speak to passengers, changing the dial on a radio station, operating a GPS, and eating
Pedestrians can contribute to these types of accidents as well. Common causes include wearing dark clothing, not seeing or hearing an oncoming car due to using electronics, and alcohol use. Interestingly, pedestrian accidents occur three times as often when a driver makes a left-hand turn. People crossing the street tend to look straight ahead while drivers are busy determining how to pass through the intersection and neither one see each other until it’s too late.
A Pedestrian Accident Can Change Your Life Forever
When a car strikes a pedestrian, the person on foot is one and one-half more likely to suffer a fatal injury than the driver. It’s easy to understand why when you consider that pedestrians have no protection surrounding them when struck by a vehicle weighing thousands of pounds. The walker is also far more likely to sustain serious injury.
The priority in pedestrian accidents must be to obtain help for anyone who appears injured. As mentioned above, motorists must stop and attend to the injured pedestrian regardless of whom they think caused the accident. Unfortunately, pedestrian accidents can cause the most significant injuries of all.
Common injuries someone can sustain when struck by a vehicle include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Severe burns
- Broken bones
The driver is more likely to experience damage to the vehicle than an injury, although that can happen as well.
Learn Your Rights as a Personal Injury Victim
You may be entitled to file a lawsuit against the other party if you sustained serious injuries in a pedestrian accident or a close family member was killed. Some of the costs you could recover include medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. To find out if you’re eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit for pedestrian injuries, schedule a legal consultation. Our experienced pedestrian accident attorneys will quickly evaluate your claim and help determine if you have a personal injury case.