Why You Must Be Extra Careful Walking at Night

In our new blog post, we will examine the increased likelihood of pedestrians being struck by a car at night and suggest ways you can protect yourself from serious injury or worse.

Thousands of Nighttime Pedestrian Fatalities

According to the most recently available statistics, more than 7,300 U.S. pedestrians lost their lives while crossing streets or walking along roads. Of that sobering number, three out of every four of these fatalities occurred while walking after nightfall.

A closer examination reveals that pedestrian injuries and deaths throughout California and the entire United States have been rising since 2009. Let’s delve into the likely reasons for this uptick and figure out how we might collectively prevent the trend from continuing.

Factors Known to Increase U.S. Pedestrian Accidents

When it comes to known factors that contribute to a higher occurrence of motor vehicles striking pedestrians, they have usually fallen into two categories: speed and inattention. Americans tend to drive fast, regularly exceeding posted speed limits by 20 miles or more. They are also too often sneaking peaks at texts, eating, fiddling with radio controls, or absorbed in conversations with passengers. And, of course, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (legal and otherwise) contributes to reduced attentiveness to the road and delayed reaction times. All of these behaviors increase the likelihood of not spotting a pedestrian until it is too late.

Additionally, given the latest statistics, we must also include darkness as a serious risk factor for being hit by a car, truck, or other motor vehicle. On the surface, the reason for an increase in nighttime accidents seems obvious—reduced visibility. Yet most people walking at night don’t take it into account when crossing streets or walking alongside them. Some jaywalk, others cross where there isn’t a crosswalk, which is dangerous enough during the day but even more so once darkness becomes a factor. While this lack of consideration when it comes to the increased risk of a driver not seeing you at night is certainly no excuse for someone running you down, that will be cold comfort if someone runs you down.

Homeless Pedestrian Accidents on the Rise

The homeless population in numerous U.S. regions has increased. In the Los Angeles area alone, homeless pedestrians and bike riders are 40 times likelier to be killed by a motorist than those of us fortunate enough to be housed. Homeless individuals are at greater risk because they tend to be outside all night and often walk close to or along the sides of busy roadways. Additionally, homeless people with untreated mental disorders, or impaired by drug and alcohol abuse, makes the possibility of their not looking before crossing streets or otherwise not observing safety precautions more common. With this in mind, it behooves Los Angelenos and others in cities with large homeless populations to remain extra attentive at night.

Tips for Walking More Safely at Night

No pedestrian should ever assume drivers will see them. This is even more important to remember when walking at night. The following are commonsense suggestions for making yourself as visible as possible:

  • Use reflective tape, reflectors, or blinking lights to draw attention to yourself. This is especially important if you are otherwise wearing dark clothes. Make sure you have lights or reflective add-ons affixed to your front and back, to protect you from traffic in either direction.
  • Stay on sidewalks, where available. If you must walk where there is no sidewalk, try to stay on or as close to the curb as possible. Always walk on the same side of the street in in which traffic is flowing.
  • Don’t cross a street illegally. While important regardless of time of day, at night ignoring this advice puts you in greater jeopardy. Drivers are already not expecting someone to dart out in front of their vehicle. Factor in reduced visibility and the possibility of driver fatigue? The danger of not being seen in time increases exponentially. Stick to clearly marked crosswalks and obey walk signals.
  • Stay in your disabled vehicle. If your car becomes disabled while driving at night due to a blown tire, running out of gas, or some other problem, call for help and don’t get out. While it might be tempting to walk to that gas station you know is at the next exit or check the damage out for yourself, walking or crouching by your car—even while pulled into the shoulder—is a very bad idea. Call the police or roadside assistance and remain inside your vehicle until you are told it is safe to exit. When you do, climb across to the passenger side to exit, and wait as far from traffic as possible.

Injured Pedestrians Deserve Fair Compensation

Pedestrians can only do so much to keep themselves from becoming another grim statistic. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of drivers to pay attention—day and night—and do their utmost to avoid striking someone. If you or someone dear to you is injured or killed because a driver failed in their duty to keep others safe, they can be held accountable. Call Scott J. Corwin, A Professional Law Corporation, to learn more about your rights and what we can do to help protect them.

Contact our office today by calling (310) 683-2300 or filling out the online contact form to discuss the details of your case and learn more about how we can help you. We offer free consultations, so there’s no reason not to reach out to someone from our team right away.