Driving Cautiously for the Safety of Vulnerable Road Users
We all know how dangerous driving can be. With over 30,000 fatalities on the roadways each year, and last year’s number tragically higher at over 35,000, driving may be the most dangerous activity you do on a daily or weekly basis. However, as dangerous it is behind the wheel or in the passenger seat, it is many orders of magnitude more dangerous for vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists. And in fact, thousands of those yearly fatalities are actually vulnerable road users, not those in passenger or commercial delivery vehicles. 4,295 motorcyclists were killed in 2014 alone, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Vulnerable road users do not have the luxury of seat belts, roll cages, airbags, or even a thin sheet of safety glass. There is nothing that protects them from the impact of a vehicle or the pavement. And while bicyclists and motorcyclists often wear helmets, pedestrians have no head protection whatsoever. Because of the extreme vulnerability of these road users, drivers must be on extra high alert when they see a pedestrian, motorcyclist, or bicyclist, or if they are driving an an area where vulnerable road users are more prevalent, such as downtown or near a school.
Dangerous Driving Behaviors that Cause Fatalities
Perhaps the most dangerous activity in which a driver can partake is operating their vehicle while intoxicated. Roughly one-third of all traffic fatalities are caused by drunk drivers. Secondly, using a cell phone while the car engine is on is a sure way to become distracted. This includes looking up directions, texting, scrolling through music, and of course answering emails. Even responding to a call takes a driver’s eyes and mind off the road, slowing reaction time and causing unintentional swerving or lane drifting.
Approaching Intersections with a Pedestrian in Mind
The Governor’s Highway Association predicts a 10 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities from 2014 to 2015, which is a larger rise in fatalities than motor vehicle occupant faced within the same time period. Many pedestrian fatalities and injuries are caused by motorists while passing through intersections or while making a left or right turn onto or off of a street. This is one of the most prevalent circumstances in which a collision occurs because a sidewalk obviously does not carry on through an intersection and the pedestrian is forced to cross onto the roadway. While turning off the road you are on or going through in intersection, follow the guidelines below to ensure that you do not cause a pedestrian fatality or injury:
- Ease off the gas when approaching any intersection, and do not speed up when the light turns yellow;
- Follow the posted speed limit at all times, and especially while in city limits and in school zones;
- You may not be going the same direction as the pedestrian, which is why carefully scanning up and down the road for pedestrians is always necessary when making a turn;
- While making a right hand turn, especially if you are currently stopped or were stopped momentarily at a light, always look over your shoulder for pedestrians or bicyclists approaching from behind;
- While turning, keep in mind that the pedestrians parallel to the street you are turning off most likely have the right of way; and
- Keep an eye on all crosswalks as you approach them.
If you were injured in a traffic collision, whether you were a vulnerable road user or not, you have the right to pursue compensation for the damages that were caused to you. Call the skilled Atlanta auto accident attorneys at the law offices of Ted A. Greve & Associates, Injury Lawyers today for more information.