Crosswalk and Other Child Pedestrian Accidents

You might think that almost all of the fatal traffic accidents involving children would be as passengers in vehicles. But studies show that in California, children ages 0-14 are particularly vulnerable to death as pedestrians. According to the California Department of Public Health (DCPH), 29.4 percent of total traffic fatalities for children this age were as pedestrians. Costa Mesa Crosswalk Accident Attorneys

When it comes to non-fatal traffic injuries, the DCPH found the 15-24 age group had the highest rates for pedestrian accidents, 52.3%. Of the 0-14 age group, it’s 31.4%.

So in the 15-24 age group over half of the non-fatal traffic injuries were as pedestrians. That is a high rate for young people walking the sidewalks and crosswalks of California and a cause for concern among parents and caregivers. 

Across the country, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says in 2016 there were 5,987 pedestrian fatalities, up from 5,495 the year before. This is the highest toll since 1990.

So while traffic safety regulations (seat belt laws, for example) and better built cars are helping lower the injury and death rate for vehicle accidents nationwide, the pedestrian death rate is increasing.

So why so many pedestrian accidents?

Pedestrian Crashes Increase

In May of 2018, a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported pedestrian deaths increasing 46 percent since reaching their lowest point in 2009. The IIHS reports more frequent and deadly pedestrian crashes.

They attribute this to people walking across at non-intersections, on arterials, and in the dark. The incidents were mainly in urban and suburban areas and the arterials were usually busy roads that funneled traffic toward freeways.

Pedestrian deaths increased 54 percent in urban areas, 67 percent on arterials, 50 percent at non-intersections, and 56 percent in the dark. This sounds much like our own Orange County, California. And it reinforces safety concerns when people do not use proper crosswalks.

The study found that though most pedestrian crashes involved cars, fatal single-vehicle pedestrian crashes involving bigger, more powerful SUVs increased 81 percent. This is more than any other vehicle on the road.

PBS News Hour reported that people walking drunk is also a major problem. A third of pedestrians killed in crashes in 2016 were over the legal limit for alcohol. Poor judgment and slow reaction time combined with more risky behavior to create a deadly situation.

Improvements in Road Design, Regulations, and Vehicles Would Help

The IIHS recommends improvements that may stop the increases we see in pedestrian injury and deaths nationwide.

One is in road design. Multi-lane arterials are difficult to cross. Even if there are crosswalks on these arterials, they may be further away so people don’t bother using them. Walkers will tend to take the riskier crossing rather than the designated crosswalk up the road. So curb extensions, median crossing islands, and adding sidewalks would help.

Another idea is to reduce speed limits, especially since today’s SUVs are so much bigger. Finally, better headlights on cars since the majority of pedestrians are killed in the dark.

How To Keep Your Children Safe While They Walk

Every kid is a pedestrian. They walk to the mailbox, in the parking lot at the store, to meet up with friends. It’s important for parents to impress upon their kids that walking takes the same critical thinking skills as riding a bike. Even driving a car.

Children under 10 years old should be accompanied by an adult or older teen who can make sure they walk safely. For young children, make sure they’re only walking on sidewalks and they use crosswalks whenever crossing the street.

So whether your child uses a crosswalk or is walking as a pedestrian along the street, there are things he or she can do to prevent serious traffic injuries.

Here’s what the NHTSA suggests all kids can do for safe walking:

  1. Be Seen

Wear bright clothing and reflective gear. Use lights at night or when visibility is low. Show red in the rear and white in front, just like a car.

  1. Plan Safest Route

Stay away from arterials that feed traffic to freeways. Pick routes with less traffic that travels at slower speeds. Use roads that have lighting and sidewalks.

  1. Know the Rules
  • Walk on sidewalks.
  • If no sidewalks, walk on the left, facing traffic.
  • Look left-right-left and behind for traffic before crossing a driveway or road.
  • Cross the street in marked crosswalks, at corners, or at intersections.
  • Obey pedestrian crossing signals.
  • While crossing, look left and right for traffic and make sure drivers see you.
  1. Look for Traffic
  • Keep an eye out for cars backing up, look for white backup lights and signs the motor is running. Especially in a parking lot.
  • Always expect drivers not to see you. Look for eye contact, a wave, or a nod from a driver before you pass in front.
  1. Walk Defensively
  • Walk focused and alert. NO TEXTING, listening to music, or any activity that takes your eyes, ears, and mind off the road and traffic.
  • Anticipate what other people using the road might do including turns, pulling out of a parking space or driveway, or backing up.
  • In poor weather or low visibility, give drivers extra time to slow down or stop. Just because you see them doesn’t mean they see you.

What You Should Do If Your Child is a Victim of a Pedestrian Accident

No matter how safely your children walk the streets of your hometown, accidents happen. And because California is not a “No-Fault” car insurance state, you must sue to get compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of income, and funeral bills.

It’s important to note that pedestrians have the right of way in a crosswalk. California Vehicle Code 21950 states, “The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.”

When you decide to pursue a lawsuit with us at Case Barnett Law, we will file a claim on your behalf and immediately begin preparing your case for trial. We anticipate appearing in court in every case.

That isn’t to say that a fair settlement by the negligent driver’s insurance company won’t be considered. We will discuss reasonable offers with our clients. But we are experienced trial attorneys and will proceed to trial if the insurance company refuses to act fairly.

If you have questions or your child has been involved in a pedestrian accident, give us a call at 949.861.2990 or request a free, no-obligation consultation here.

Case C. Barnett
Costa Mesa Personal Injury Attorney practicing in child injury law, car accident injuries and elder abuse law