According to the most recent Ohio Traffic Crash Facts Book, 145 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents on Ohio’s roads during 2017. Although pedestrian accidents were only one-half of 1% of all traffic accidents in the state, those 145 pedestrians accounted for 12.3% of all Ohio traffic fatalities last year.
These figures highlight just how vulnerable pedestrians are in Ohio vehicle accidents. Without the protective frame of an automobile around them, and with limited maneuverability to avoid imminent crashes or respond to emergencies, pedestrians and other non-motorists on Ohio roads face a greater risk of serious injury or death than that faced by other road users as the result of a traffic accident.
With shorter days, temperatures dropping, and the prospect of snowy and icy roads over the coming months, now is a good time for all Ohioans, drivers and pedestrians alike, to reflect on what they can do to help keep all Ohio’s road users safe, whether on foot, on a bicycle, in a vehicle, or otherwise.
Article at a Glance
- Understanding when and why pedestrian accidents happen can help drivers and pedestrians better protect each other on Ohio’s roads.
- Drivers can help protect pedestrians by paying attention to their surroundings and following the law when driving.
- Pedestrians, too, can take steps to keep themselves safe while walking on or around Ohio’s roadways.
Pedestrian Accidents: Statistics
Although the Ohio Traffic Crash Facts Book provides some information about pedestrian accidents, for more detail we can turn to national statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). According to the NHTSA, in 2016 (the latest year for which it provides data), there were 5,987 pedestrian deaths nationwide, and:
- Most pedestrian fatalities occurred at night. 75% of pedestrian fatalities were in the dark, with 46% occurring between 9 P.M. and 6 A.M.
- Fewer fatalities occurred at intersections than other parts of the road. 72% of pedestrians killed in traffic accidents were not at an intersection, compared with 18% who were. The remaining 10% were at “other” locations, such as on the side of the road, in parking areas, bicycle lanes, or sidewalks.
- Most pedestrian deaths were in towns or cities. 76% of pedestrian fatalities were in urban areas. The other 24% were in rural areas.
- Most pedestrians killed in traffic accidents were male, and many were elderly. 4,179 pedestrians killed in traffic accidents were male, accounting for 70% of all pedestrian traffic deaths. 1,158 pedestrians—or about 20% of the total—were 65 years old or older.
- Alcohol was involved in half of all pedestrian fatalities. 48% of motor vehicle accidents resulting in a pedestrian death involved alcohol. In 33% of pedestrian fatalities, the pedestrian had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more, compared with just 13% in which the driver had a BAC at that level.
Pedestrian Safety Tips
Fortunately, there are steps that both pedestrians and drivers can take to help protect one another on Ohio’s roads.
Tips for Drivers
Drivers are often in a better position to avoid pedestrian accidents than pedestrians are. Recognizing this, Ohio law imposes a duty on drivers to be careful to avoid hitting pedestrians—even if the pedestrians are in a place they aren’t supposed to be (e.g., jaywalking). When you’re behind the wheel, you can help avoid pedestrian collisions by:
- Driving at or below the speed limit. You may need to drive slower than the speed limit when weather or other conditions, such as the presence of pedestrians, require it.
- Follow traffic rules. Naturally, you must obey traffic control signals like stop signs and stop lights. When stopping, you should stop before entering a crosswalk and ensure your path is clear of pedestrians before driving through a crosswalk or other designated pedestrian crossing.
- Watch for pedestrians. You should constantly be on the lookout for pedestrians in and around the road. As always, you should not drive distracted, but give your full attention to the road and those around you.
And, of course, all Ohioans should only drive while sober. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol clouds thinking, slows reactions, and is a crime.
Tips for Pedestrians
As a pedestrian, you can also take steps to help protect yourself against traffic accidents.
For starters, familiarize yourself with the rules of the road for pedestrians. A summary of what Ohio law requires of pedestrians can be found in part 11 of the Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws. Among other things, as a pedestrian, you must:
- Follow traffic control signs and devices. These include pedestrian-specific signals (Walk/Don’t Walk), but where those are not used, you are still required to follow any other traffic control sign or devices, like stop signs or traffic lights.
- Cross only at crosswalks in town. In a town or city, you must only cross the street at crosswalks. That means you must cross at intersections, and not in the middle of a block. Whenever crossing a street outside of a crosswalk, you must yield the right of way to traffic on the road.
- Use sidewalks if available. If there is a sidewalk or path running alongside the road, you must use the sidewalk or path, and not walk in the road. Otherwise, you should use the shoulder of the road. If there is no shoulder, walk as close to the left edge of the road as possible, facing oncoming traffic.
- Pay attention to traffic. When you’re walking, pay attention to the traffic around you, not to your cell phone or other electronics. According to a 2015 study, some 10% of pedestrian injuries leading to an emergency-room visit were caused by such “distracted walking.”
Given how many pedestrian accidents occur in the dark, you should also be mindful of what you wear when walking at night. Use reflective clothing and carry a flashlight to help drivers see you in the dark.
And, just like drivers should only drive sober, pedestrians should not walk drunk. Think back to the NHTSA’s statistics: 33% of pedestrians killed in traffic accidents had a BAC that exceeded the legal limit for driving. Although it’s a good thing when pedestrians don’t get behind the wheel in that condition, it would still be better to call a friend or family member or hire a taxi or Uber to take them home instead of walking there.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Today
When it comes to pedestrian traffic safety, the bottom line is this: Everyone, driver and pedestrian alike, has the duty to act reasonably and follow the law. We all have a responsibility to keep one another safe when we’re using the roads. Following the law and being attentive to other road users can help avoid an accident with life-altering consequences.
If you or a loved one are injured in an automobile accident in Ohio, whether as a pedestrian, driver, or otherwise, contact an experienced personal injury attorney from Plevin & Gallucci today to learn more about how Ohio law protects you.