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Waukegan Pedestrian Accident Attorney Nearly 6,000 pedestrians were struck and killed by motor vehicles in the U.S. in 2017, and many thousands more were severely injured. These figures beg two questions: What are the most common causes of these accidents, and when does the fault lie with the pedestrian versus the driver?

Alcohol Plays a Factor in Many Pedestrian Accidents

When a pedestrian is struck and killed by a car, it is more common for the pedestrian than the driver to be legally drunk, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. OIf all pedestrian fatalities, 33 percent involved an alcohol-impaired pedestrian and 13 percent involved a drunk driver.

You may wonder if a drunk pedestrian injured by a car can recover damages from the driver. The answer is, it depends on the totality of the circumstances. If the driver was obeying all traffic laws and a drunk pedestrian just stepped out in front of the car, the pedestrian would probably be assigned all or most of the fault for the accident. If the pedestrian is found to be at least 50 percent at fault for the accident, the pedestrian will be barred from recovering any damages from the driver, in accordance with the Illinois law of modified comparative negligence.  

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In all major metropolises, like Chicago, where pedestrians share the road with cars, motorcycles, emergency vehicles, and bicycles, there are bound to be more pedestrian accidents than in areas in which the vast majority of people are in vehicles. Chicago, in fact, has several organizations and safety groups meant to aid pedestrians who have been injured, and to help raise awareness about pedestrian safety and driver responsibility. These kinds of initiatives seem to be working, not just in Chicago, but across the nation. According to a recent National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) report, the number of pedestrian fatalities declined last year by nearly 2 percent. The year on record with the least number of pedestrian fatalities remains 2009, but every year that the number continues to decline, even slightly, is a success.

The NHTSA has done several studies to determine how to continue to reduce the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities. One of the most telling findings has to do with the speed at which the car in question was driving. As one may suspect, the faster the car is driving, the most likely it is that the pedestrian will be injured or even killed. If a car, for example, is driving at 58 mph, a pedestrian has a 90 percent chance of being killed. A pedestrian has a 90 percent chance of severe injury if that same car is going 46 mph.

Public outreach was identified as one of the best ways to continue to reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities. One such initiatives in Chicago in recent years was the ramped up enforcement of a crosswalk law. The law requires all cars to stop at a crosswalk, not just yield, for pedestrians. The law took effect in 2010, but as of 2012, according to reports, it was not effecting much change. Drivers are reticent to adapt to new laws such as this, though the incentive to avoid high fines that accompany breaking such a law could help to continue to make it one that is more widely followed. In Chicago, drivers can be fined up to $500 for not stopping for a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

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Illinois personal injury attorney, Illinois car accident attorney, Illinois wrongful death lawyer, There is more to a pedestrian accident than simple negligence on either the part of the pedestrian or the driver. Some types of pedestrian accidents are often overlooked and considered a driving problem; it can be easy for a pedestrian to forget that he or she is just as responsible for street safety as other types road users. This is particularly true in large cities such as Chicago where a great number of people use pedestrian throughways.  The City of Chicago counts pedestrian accidents as any that involve a motor vehicle in which a pedestrian was the first point of contact with the vehicle.

The number of pedestrian accidents has decreased dramatically in recent years in Chicago, according to the City of Chicago. In 2009, there were only 3,130 pedestrian crashes, representing a nine-year low. One major type of pedestrian crash is one that involves alcohol. According to National Traffic and Safety Administration statistics, though it is not technically illegal, alcohol impairment could be as serious as a problem for walkers as it is for drivers. Like the overall number of pedestrian accidents, these have declined in recent years. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of pedestrian accidents occur in urban areas much more frequently than rural, but only in number. A staggering 25 percent of all pedestrian fatalities occur in rural areas where vehicle speeds are higher than on city streets. This is something to pay special attention to on the suburban outskirts of major cities like Chicago.

There are several types of pedestrian safety programs that the city of Chicago administers. Several of these involve Chicago Police Department or the Chicago Department of Transportation. The Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Council meets four times a year to act as an interdisciplinary body of stakeholder groups and local, state, and federal representatives on pedestrian safety. Another group is the Safe Routes for Seniors programs, which conducts safety presentations that address the unique pedestrian needs of the elderly. Other safety initiatives are more concrete: such as the countdown timers that were installed on nearly 50 percent of signalized intersections in Chicago by the end of summer 2011. Another concrete initiative are refuge islands and curb extensions, which allow pedestrians more walkway space on otherwise difficult to cross streets.

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traffic accident, Illinois injury attorney, Illinois pedestrian accident lawyer,Chicago is a busy metropolis where a majority of people rely on public transportation and walking to navigate the city. Despite the cold, winter months, foot traffic remains steady due to work commutes, holiday shopping and activities, and out-of-town visitors. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning reports that from 2004-2010, there were an average of 3,395 pedestrian accidents per year.

There are a few streets more congested than others around the city, which can lead to an increased number of accidents. The Chicago Tribune published an article that listed three of the more dangerous intersections for pedestrians including:

  • Damen, North and Milwaukee avenues six-way intersection;
  • Cicero and Chicago avenues on the West Side; and
  • Lincoln Park’s Halsted Street/Lincoln Avenue/Fullerton Parkway.

The city’s Active Transportation Alliance launched its Safe Crossings campaign to promote intersection safety for pedestrians. Its director mentioned installation of pedestrian countdown signals and improvement of crosswalk markings could make a huge difference for not just walkers, but cyclists and those who use public transportation.

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pedestrian accidentPedestrian accidents are usually relatively well covered by the news, as they can be some of the most deadly motor vehicle incidents that occur. In major cities in which more people get around on foot (as opposed to the suburbs, for example), the rate of pedestrian accidents is higher.

Regardless, the rate of pedestrian accidents in Chicago has consistently declined in recent years. According to the City of Chicago Pedestrian Crash Analysis, the past decade has seen a dramatic downward trend in the number of people injured or killed in pedestrian–motor vehicle accidents. In 2009, for example, the 3,130 pedestrian crashes “represented a nine-year low, dropping eight percent since 2005 and more than 22 percent since 2001,” according to the Pedestrian Crash Analysis.

Chicago was just outside of the top ten of American cities when it came to number of pedestrian accidents for data kept between 2005 and 2009. The city, in fact, had the lowest pedestrian fatality rate in large cities with a population density more than 5,000 people per square mile. Chicago ranked 11th on the list, just behind New York. Phoenix, Arizona had the highest rate of pedestrian accidents, with just more than three fatalities per 100,000 residents.

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