Vehicles Take a Toll on Pedestrians

November 16th, 2015 by Attorney Julie Butcher

Pedestrians face many hazards that could potentially cause serious injuries. We often don’t think twice about walking from one place to another, but we need to be aware of our surroundings and take precautions against possible accidents. Where we walk may be slippery or hazardous due to poor maintenance, design or lighting, resulting in a fall. Crossing streets and parking lots can be dangerous due to vehicle traffic, and the results can be catastrophic.

Recent fatalities show the problem hits close to home.

  • Ole Bach Nielsen of Windsor, New Jersey, was struck and killed by a car when he tried to cross Red Mile Road in Lexington on the evening of October 1, reports WKYT. The driver told police she was unable to stop her car in time to avoid hitting him.
  • The same day there were two fatal vehicle accidents involving pedestrians in Madison County, according to Eileen M. Powell of Richmond was hit by a vehicle behind the Kroger store in Richmond by a pickup truck turning from the parking lot into the street. Sean Powell of Berea was struck on Mount Vernon Road about a mile from the Berea city limits and died at the scene. Police state he walked into the path of the vehicle.

Lexington police report the number of “pedestrian-versus-vehicle” accidents has increased in recent years but declined in 2014, according to The number of these accidents in Lexington were:

  • 143 in 2011
  • 158 in 2012
  • 173 in 2013
  • 123 in 2014.

The Fayette County coroner’s office states 16 people were killed in Lexington because of accidents involving vehicles from 2011 to 2014.

The city of Lexington has formed an internal working group to identify street locations that could be improved to increase pedestrian safety. Possible improvements include better lighting, markings to make crosswalks more visible and curb ramps to help those who use wheelchairs. City officials state factors contributing to pedestrian injuries include:

  • Their intoxication
  • Jaywalking
  • Lack of attention (including wearing headphones).

Pedestrian injuries and deaths are not a problem unique to Lexington. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the following nationwide estimates:

  • On the average day, 445 pedestrians seek medical treatment in hospital emergency departments due to vehicle accident-related injuries.
  • Every two hours, on average, a pedestrian will be killed due to injuries in a traffic crash.
  • More than 4,743 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents and another 76,000 were injured in 2012.

The CDC reports that some pedestrians have a higher risk of injuries than others:

  • Male pedestrians are more likely to be killed or injured in a motor vehicle crash than females.
  • Those aged 15 to 29 are most likely to be treated in emergency departments for vehicle accident-related injuries.
  • The rate of pedestrian deaths generally increases with age.
  • 34% of all pedestrians killed by vehicles in 2012 were legally drunk.

There are a number of things pedestrians can do to limit the risk of being hit by a motor vehicle, including wearing reflective clothing and carrying a light at night. With thousands of students walking the campus area, the University of Kentucky offers these suggestions to pedestrians to help keep them safe:

  • Cross streets at crosswalks and with the signal. Your attention should be focused on oncoming traffic.
  • If you’re not crossing at a crosswalk, you must yield to vehicles because they have the right of way.
  • If you’re crossing a street, don’t assume drivers can see you or stop in time to prevent hitting you.
  • Parking lots are not meant to be pedestrian short cuts. Be aware that vehicles and trucks can come from any direction at any time.

It must be pointed out, however, that even pedestrians who cross with the light and within or near the designated crossing zone may be hit by moving vehicles and find themselves forced to take legal action against the driver in order to get the compensation they are due.

No matter how careful you may be, pedestrian accidents happen all the time. If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, promptly get medical attention and call our office so we can discuss what happened and your legal rights to possible compensation.