Pedestrians are more at risk than any other group of people that use the roads and sidewalks. Many pedestrians are injured when they attempt to cross a road, especially a road in a built up area. Of all pedestrian age groups, it seems from recent studies that teenagers and children are most at risk. Very young children cannot be expected to understand the dangers of walking, running or playing close to a road, but in fact teenagers appear to be even more at risk than younger children.
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, a recent study has revealed that the number of pedestrian accidents of children between 14 and 19 years old accounts for half of all pedestrian accidents. Worse, the study suggests that the number of crashes of those between 16 and 19 have increased over the last five years. According to data held by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), around 40,000 children were injured in 2014 across the country, with several thousand being killed in pedestrian accidents. Tennessee figures are harder to come by, but a figure of 1,044 serious injuries and 44 fatalities from pedestrian accidents in 2012 provided by the Tennessee Traffic and Safety Commission does give an idea of the seriousness of the situation.
Why are teenagers being hit?
There are several reasons why teenagers are hit more than any other pedestrian group by vehicles.
- Distracted drivers may not notice a teenager crossing the road, even at a controlled crossing or crosswalk. Distracted driving is responsible for probably more vehicle accidents, including pedestrian accidents, than any other factor. Distracted drivers are distracted by many modern devices, such as GPSs, cell phones, iPods and iPads as well as old ones: eating, drinking and staring out of the window while they drive.
- Distracted pedestrians. To be fair, one of the reasons that teenagers often give to explain how accidents happen when they cross the road is that they are often not concentrating on what they are doing. Music, text messaging and ‘social media responsibilities’ are the most often quoted sources of distraction. Some, but certainly not all pedestrian accidents that involve teenagers may not entirely be the fault of the driver, but the reality is that when it comes to a collision between a vehicle and a pedestrian, the pedestrian inevitably suffers the most.
- Speeding. Speeding drivers, i.e. drivers who are driving at well above the speed limit, are routinely given as a reason for vehicle /pedestrian collision.
- Poor roadside design factors. Children are often quite rightly told not to walk between parked cars or try and cross a road where there is no crosswalk, but what do they do when all the roads are lined by parked cars and there are no crosswalks? Roadsides do need better design, especially where there are children, teenagers and elders nearby, such as near schools, colleges and nursing homes. That means crosswalks, controlled crossings, car parking prohibited and wider sidewalks in those places.
- Night time driving. Teenagers may not have their own car, but that doesn’t mean they don’t go out in the evening and night time. Statistics for pedestrian accidents show that three quarters of teen accidents happen after dark, between 7 pm and 7 am.
- Fatigue. Not having enough sleep affects both pedestrians and drivers alike, causing them to have lower concentration ability. Tired drivers are more likely to hit pedestrians than drivers who are not tired. Tired pedestrians are more likely to be hit than pedestrians who are not tired.
As a parent, you may do all you can to ensure your teenage or younger child takes care when they leave home on foot. You may try and make sure that they use crosswalks and other safe places to cross a busy street, that they avoid using their earphones or cell phones when about to cross a road and take special care at night. However, there are times when even the most careful teenager is still harmed by a negligent driver. Drivers are quite well aware of the fact that they should take care when they are in an area where young (or elderly) pedestrians are likely to be using, but may still show no regard for their safety.
If your teenage child has had a pedestrian accident and has been hurt, you have the right to claim compensation from the negligent driver by filing a personal injury lawsuit with the help of a pedestrian accident attorney. Even if it is determined that your teen aged child shares some of the blame for the accident, as long as the percentage blame wasn’t more than 50% he or she is still entitled to compensation in Tennessee under the state’s modified comparative fault rule. You can discuss your legal options by arranging a free appointment with the Keith Williams Law Group in Nashville. Ring 866 820-4457 today.