What Are The Leading Causes of Pedestrian Accidental Death?

What Are The Leading Causes of Pedestrian Accidental Death?

The US loses about 8,000 pedestrians a year to fatal accidents. Alcohol was involved in about half of all accidents involving pedestrian fatalities. In addition to fatalities, over 100,000 pedestrians a year sustain injuries serious enough to require emergency room treatment

Following is a list of some of the most common causes of pedestrian accidents. If you’ve lost a loved one in a pedestrian accident, contact a wrongful death attorney to learn about your legal options. 

Distracted Driving

There has been an explosion of distracted driving accidents ever since handheld electronic devices such as smartphones began gaining popularity in the late 1990s. Distracted driving, illegal in every state, involves calling, texting, or using an app while driving. One way to prove distracted driving is to subpoena the driver’s cell phone records from the local service provider. 

Pedestrian Distraction

Just as a distracted driver can cause an accident, so can a distracted pedestrian. One of the most common ways that a pedestrian can cause an accident is to walk into the street without looking while preoccupied with using their smartphone.


Speeding reduces stopping distances, making it more difficult to stop in time to avoid a pedestrian accident. Speeding also renders it more likely that a car will hit a pedestrian hard enough to result in catastrophic injury or death. Residential areas and school zones are both areas with a deadly coincidence of speeding drivers and pedestrian traffic.


Intoxication means using alcohol, recreational drugs, and intoxicating prescription drugs. All of these substances reduce a driver’s reaction time and impair judgment. Pedestrians are particularly vulnerable since they often cannot move out of the way of an oncoming vehicle fast enough to avoid an accident.

Poor Visibility

It’s difficult to avoid hitting something you can’t see. That is why, all other factors being equal, pedestrian accidents are more likely to happen at night, during bad weather, or on poorly lit roads or parking lots. As a pedestrian, always wear bright clothing when walking in conditions of low visibility.

Lack of Crosswalks

Jaywalking refers to crossing the street as a pedestrian without using a crosswalk. If there is no crosswalk, however, all crossing is jaywalking. The lack of pedestrian signals (those green and red pedestrian figures) can also contribute to the risk of pedestrian fatalities.  

Driver Failure to Yield

Perhaps the most important cause of pedestrian accidents is that many drivers are simply not looking out for pedestrians. As a consequence, such drivers often fail to yield to pedestrians because they don’t see them–or don’t see them in time to avoid an accident. Failure to yield is most likely to occur in busy, high-stress traffic conditions where the driver is distracted by vehicle traffic.

Road Design and Traffic Flow

Sometimes it really is the government’s fault. Wide lanes with multiple lanes are challenging for pedestrians to safely navigate. A single error, combined with an inattentive or speeding motorist, can spell death. Some such roads forbid pedestrian traffic, but that doesn’t stop pedestrians from occasionally using these roads anyway (after a road breakdown, for example).

Unmarked or Poorly Designed Intersections

Intersections that lack clear markings or can be confusing for both motorists and pedestrians. Innovative designs, such as European-style roundabouts, can also confuse drivers and pedestrians who are not familiar with them.

Road Construction

If the word “pedestrian” includes construction workers who must spend long hours standing in the middle of a congested roadway with nothing but a sign reading “SLOW” separating them from impact with a vehicle traveling at 55 mph, then pedestrian fatalities are distressingly high at road construction sites.

Vehicle Design and Blind Spots

Some vehicles, especially trucks, have particularly large blind spots. A pedestrian caught in one of these blind spots is in danger whether they know it or not. If, as a pedestrian, you even see one of those bumper stickers that declares, “If you can’t see my mirrors I can’t see you”, take heed.

Stay Safe While Crossing the Street

It’s important to remain vigilant while walking alongside a road and crossing the street. By knowing the most common reasons for pedestrian accident deaths, you can take steps to protect yourself.