Have you been injured in an Oklahoma pedestrian accident?

Pedestrian accidents can result in serious or fatal injuries.

Walking, whether as part of your "commute" to work or for fitness, is a great form of exercise. It's free of charge, and has benefits for both body and mind. It's also an economically sound alternative to driving, particularly for short trips, as it saves gas and prevents wear-and-tear on your vehicle. With all these positives, it is not hard to understand why so many people walk on a daily basis.

There are some downsides to walking outdoors, though. You are at the mercy of the weather; here in Oklahoma, this can mean severe storms that develop quickly. Walking also adds time to every trip, since it obviously takes longer to walk than it does to drive.

One of the biggest negatives associated with being a pedestrian has nothing to do with weather or the clock. When you are alongside vehicle traffic, even if you are on a sidewalk, you are at a significant disadvantage, and unprotected from both the elements and from harm.

A report from the Governors' Highway Safety Association reinforces just how vulnerable pedestrians can be: pedestrian fatalities spiked an estimated 14 percent from 2015 to 2016. Oklahoma had a slightly lower increase, with 9.4 percent more pedestrian deaths in 2016, but any uptick is alarming.

Why are pedestrian accidents increasing?

Safety experts like those at the GHSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration agree that the biggest determining factor in the insistent rise of pedestrian accidents across America is the ready access to portable electronic devices, particularly smartphones, tablets and mp3 players. These are being used more often by both drivers and pedestrians, but it's the pedestrians who pay a much larger price for distraction.

Other factors leading to the increase in pedestrian injuries and fatalities include:

  • An increase in highway miles driven in 2016 (the recovering economy and lower gas prices both allowed more people to hit the road)
  • Alcohol (an estimated 34 percent of pedestrians killed had alcohol in their system, and 15 percent of drivers involved in fatal accidents were intoxicated)
  • Poor city planning and inadequate traffic control systems (not enough sidewalks, marked crosswalks and "walk" signs will leave pedestrians at even more of a disadvantage, as will too-high speed limits in residential areas and school zones)

Keeping yourself safe

Obviously, you may not be able to single-handedly address the lack of sidewalks in your area or the fact that many drivers aren't paying enough attention to the road. There are still things you can do to help keep yourself safe as a pedestrian, including:

  • Using sidewalks and crosswalks whenever they are available
  • Not crossing in the middle of the street; use the intersections, even if they aren't marked crosswalks, because you're easier to see
  • Wearing bright or reflective clothing, particularly if you are walking at night, or at dusk or twilight
  • Putting away your own phone

In spite of your best efforts to remain safe, someone else's negligence could still result in your injury. When you are involved in a vehicle-versus-pedestrian accident, those injuries can be severe. Don't try to handle a pedestrian accident case on your own. These cases can be difficult to prove, and it can be nearly impossible to ensure that the insurance companies are offering you a fair settlement unless you fully understand the factors involved. If you - or someone you love - have been injured in an Oklahoma pedestrian accident, contact the Ponca City office of Fred Boettcher Law Group by calling locally at 580-789-4936 or toll free at 800-521-7428.