People who frequently walk in areas where there is a heavier traffic flow are statistically more likely to get hit by a car. Learn why in winter these crash risks are greater, even for pedestrians in more rural areas.
Schmidt Kramer discusses winter crashes involving pedestrians, including how you can protect yourself from becoming a victim.
Injured as a pedestrian? Contact our experienced auto crash lawyers in Harrisburg today. In your free consultation, we answer your questions and explain your legal options. Since there is no cost and no obligation to this meeting, there is no risk to you.
It is worth mentioning that if our firm represents you, there are no upfront costs or fees to pay. We only collect the fees for our services if we win your case.
Call Schmidt Kramer for your FREE case review today. (717) 727-1403
Why Are Crash Risks Higher for Pedestrians in Winter?
Pedestrian crashes are always a risk whenever there are people walking near traffic. Both walkers and drivers may zone out or get distracted, and in only a second, a dangerous situation could result.
In winter, the crash risks become greater for pedestrians. During this season, vulnerable road users, like pedestrians, are much more likely to get hit by vehicles due to:
Shorter Days and Longer Nights
During the winter season, it tends to be darker in both the morning and evening hours. There is always less visibility during those times, even if you are lucky enough to have streetlights. People who go out walking, jogging or just to take the family dog out may not consider their risk for being hit by a car at night. However, it is dangerous for pedestrians to assume drivers see them. It is also a huge risk to think drivers will stop. This is true whether you are at a designated crossing area or even if you have the right of way. At night, even if a driver is fully focused, it is harder to see pedestrians in the road, especially if they are wearing dark clothing.
Distracted Walkers, Distracted Drivers
There is plenty of talk about driver distractions and how they pose a crash risk and potential harm, to others on the road, including pedestrians. Yet, both pedestrians and drivers have a legal duty to prevent causing harm to others. Whether you are behind the wheel or out for a walk, this means avoiding distracting behavior, such as texting and driving or texting and walking. In winter, this type of crash risk is even greater, because bad weather often means drivers have less time to react.
In winter, it may be difficult to avoid driving through snow or even hitting the occasional patch of black ice on the road. Being tired, distracted or impaired only increases the risk of this happening. As a driver, this situation may prevent you from stopping fast enough to avoid hitting a pedestrian. If you go walking while you are impaired or distracted, or you allow yourself to zone out, you could slip on an icy patch of sidewalk. If you were already walking across the road, you could slip and fall into the path of a vehicle. Being on the ground or in the road after a fall would make it even harder for drivers to see you.
Impaired Drivers or Pedestrians
When drivers, pedestrians or both are impaired, the results can be disastrous.
Drivers may struggle to focus on the road no matter what is causing them to be impaired. Whether fatigued or drunk, for instance, a driver’s judgment is likely way off and he or she may also be unable to see clearly. Drivers who are drunk are also more likely to engage in dangerous behavior, such as speeding through a red light.
Impaired pedestrians may struggle with many of the same issues as drivers who are intoxicated or fatigued. They may walk recklessly into the road or simply forget to check for traffic. Unfortunately, for pedestrians, this can be a deadly decision.
Drivers who exceed the posted speed limit create a crash risk for everyone on the road, not just pedestrians. However, speeding during the winter season, when it is darker and the weather is often bad, significantly increases the risk of a pedestrian crash. Drivers may be unable to stop in time to avoid hitting a pedestrian. Speeding drivers may also lose control of their vehicles in this situation and veer into another vehicle or one or more pedestrians.
Who May Be Liable for a Crash Involving Pedestrians in the Winter?
Regardless of the time of day or what season it is, both drivers and pedestrians could be assessed with full or partial liability. Drivers have a greater responsibility to follow traffic laws and do what they can to avoid hitting a pedestrian. However, pedestrians also owe a legal duty. This means not being distracted, impaired or simply ignoring safety rules just because drivers are supposed to yield to them.
Pedestrians, for example, may be liable for causing a crash if they suddenly darted in the road without checking for traffic. Drivers, on the other hand, could be held liable in many situations, such as if they were driving while intoxicated and failed to yield to a pedestrian in a designated crossing area.
In some situations, both drivers and pedestrians may share liability.
Unfortunately, pedestrians are much more vulnerable to suffering serious, life-altering injuries if they are struck by a vehicle.
How Can Pedestrians Reduce Winter Crash Risks?
Here are some tips you can take as a pedestrian to reduce your risk of being hit by a car – during the winter or any time of year:
- Always assume drivers may not see you: If you are wearing dark clothing and are also not wearing anything reflective, drivers may not see you in time to stop. This is also true in bad winter weather or at other times when it is darker out and there is already low visibility.
- Stay alert and not distracted: Zoning out in your thoughts or being otherwise distracted could be dangerous or even fatal. As a pedestrian, you can protect yourself by remaining alert to your surroundings and staying off your phone. In winter, being alert also means checking both ways for traffic and watching out for snow and other icy areas when out walking.
- Dress appropriately: In winter, it is a good idea to wear shoes that are appropriate for the weather, such as those with more traction. Wearing bright or reflective clothing at night can also better protect you and make you more visible to drivers.
- Do not walk while impaired: Walking while drunk, fatigued or under the influence of any other substances is a bad idea. This is a good time to use rideshare services or get a lift from a friend or family member who is not impaired. People get reckless when they are impaired, especially if they are drunk. In this condition, you could easily slip and fall into the road. You may even be more likely to recklessly wander into the road. In either situation, the winter weather and low visibility could make it difficult or impossible for drivers to see you.
The bottom line is simple. Be proactive for your own safety. This means not blindly walking into any street, even at a designated crossing area and even if you have the right of way. It is a bad risk to count on drivers to be solely responsible for your safety. Therefore, you should always check for traffic at any road crossing to be sure approaching drivers see you and have stopped.
Injured in a Pedestrian Crash? Call Schmidt Kramer for Legal Help Today
Even if you take steps to reduce your winter crash risks as a pedestrian, you could still end up getting injured by a vehicle through no fault of your own. If you suffered harm after being struck by a vehicle, the knowledgeable attorneys at Schmidt Kramer are prepared to help.
If we represent you, we will fully investigate the incident that caused your injuries and seek the maximum possible compensation for your damages. Contact our law offices today to request your FREE case review and learn about your legal options.
We get the results you need. (717) 727-1403