This week, a Winter Haven man lost his life after being struck by two cars while trying to cross U.S. 17 on foot. Tragedies like this remind me of how dangerous being near motor vehicles can be for pedestrians and how important it is to always stay safe and alert.
It’s no surprise that your risk of serious injury or death changes based on the vehicle you are in, or the vehicle you aren’t in. You’re more likely to be seriously injured in a collision where you’re riding a motorcycle versus a car, for instance. Pedestrians have the highest risk, as they lack the maneuverability to get out of the way and have no barrier or protection to shield them from the force of the collision.
Winter Haven Man Dies in Pedestrian Incident
On Monday, a 31-year-old was killed after he was struck by two vehicles while he attempted to cross U.S. 17 as a pedestrian. The first driver swerved but couldn’t manage to avoid the man entirely. The second vehicle collided with the man while he was downed in the road from the first collision.
This tragedy took place around 4:30 in the morning. Based on this, we can assume that it was still dark out and visibility was low. The first driver appears to have noticed the man crossing the street a second too late. This highlights the need for high visibility clothing for pedestrians and for drivers to stay constantly alert. Your life can change in a split second for both parties.
Pedestrian Injuries and Deaths: The Facts
In 2017, there were nearly 6,000 pedestrians killed in traffic collisions in the United States. That means a pedestrian was killed every hour and a half on average. That’s more than 100 pedestrians killed every single week of the year.
Worse still, the rates of pedestrian deaths seem to be increasing in proportion to other traffic fatalities.
- In 2008, pedestrian fatalities made up 12% of the total traffic fatalities for the year
- In 2017, pedestrian fatalities made up 16% of the total traffic fatalities
While there are a number of factors that could contribute to this increase, the results are still concerning. There have been a multitude of safety features added to our cars in the last decade, so you’d expect the rate of pedestrian deaths to be plummeting.
The time of day also plays a factor in pedestrian deaths. According to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration:
- 26% of all pedestrian fatalities occurred from 6pm to 9pm
- 24% of pedestrian fatalities occurred from 9pm to 12am
Looking at these numbers, it’s safe to say that visibility plays a major role in pedestrian collisions. Drivers are more likely to hit and kill pedestrians when it is later in the day and when the sun has gone down, making it easier to miss a solo walker.
Staying Safe as a Pedestrian
Here are a few quick tips for staying safe as a pedestrian. While many pedestrian collisions are the fault of the driver, it doesn’t hurt to stay as safe as possible when you’re a pedestrian.
- Obey all traffic signs and signals at all times
- Stay constantly alert. Don’t let distractions like cell phones take your eyes away from your surroundings
- Make eye contact with drivers so that you can ensure they are aware of you when you cross in front of them. Don’t cross if you can’t tell the driver has noticed you
- Be visible. Wearing bright colors and high visibility clothing is incredibly important when it comes to pedestrian safety
- Stay sober. Alcohol and drugs don’t only impair drivers, they impair you in any situation and can result in a costly, or even deadly, mistake