Pedestrian safety remains a hot issue for growing cities across the country, including Houston. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there was a 3% increase in auto pedestrian accident fatalities in 2018, representing an additional 6,283 lives that were taken too soon by negligent drivers. Upon taking a closer look into auto pedestrian accident statistics, an alarming amount of these collisions occur at intersections – particularly by drivers attempting to make a left turn. These findings show how civil infrastructure can directly impact pedestrian safety within a community.
The reason why pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely to suffer a fatal accident per trip than those occupying a motor vehicle is simply due to a lack of physical protection. Pedestrians are obviously not equipped with the same safety features of a motor vehicle – like airbags and seatbelts. Although drivers would argue that they do not need to be reminded of the vulnerability that comes with being a pedestrian, victims of auto pedestrian accidents and their loved ones would beg to differ. The truth is, no matter how minor an accident or collision may be (especially an accident without property damage), the impact will always disproportionately affect pedestrians. Even minor accidents can cause serious, life threatening injuries for pedestrians.
Pedestrian Safety: The Dangers of a Left Turn
Left turns are particularly dangerous to pedestrians as they combine two of the most dangerous risk factors for pedestrians – low visibility and driver error. Unfortunately, drivers approaching intersections without protected left turns often fail to yield, disobeying traffic laws by failing to stop and allow for safe pedestrian crossing before executing a left turn. Drivers who are distracted by vehicle occupants, texting, talking on the phone, or using their vehicle’s navigation system are unlikely to be paying as close of attention to an intersection’s environment as is needed, including failing to notice those waiting to or attempting to cross the street. Additionally, drivers engaging in reckless behaviors like speeding can fail to maintain a safe stopping distance before making a left turn, thus potentially striking a pedestrian crossing. Although speeding and distracted driving are two of the top causes of driver error resulting in car crashes, there are many reasons why a driver might injure a pedestrian.
Intersection Infrastructure Improvements
The most obvious pedestrian safety improvement that can be made would involve all drivers obeying traffic laws; however, this unfortunately is not realistic. In addition to increased driver education and pedestrian safety awareness, infrastructure improvements can also help reduce auto pedestrian fatalities. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), cities that have introduced centerline hardening to intersections saw positive metrics with regard to pedestrian safety. Centerline hardening refers to the technique of adding bollards and rubber curbs to block the diagonal path a driver takes when turning left across an intersection. By adding barriers, drivers are forced to slow down in order to execute the left turn needed to clear the intersection. This allows for safe pedestrian crossing while forcing drivers to properly yield and slow down before turning.
Houston Auto Pedestrian Accident Attorneys
While the City of Houston has not announced the implementation of centerline hardening in intersections across the city, pedestrians deserve to safely share the roads with motor vehicles. While big city infrastructure struggles to comply with modern pedestrian safety measures, drivers must do their part in keeping roads and intersections safe for everyone. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in an auto pedestrian accident, contact the Houston personal injury lawyers of Adame Garza today to discuss your case at no cost.