Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrian accidents in Indiana, as in the rest of the United States, have been a growing concern for both the public and policymakers alike. These incidents often result in severe injuries or fatalities, underscoring the urgent need for awareness and preventive measures.

In 2021, about 8,984 fatal pedestrian accidents occurred on US roadways, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

The reasons behind these accidents are multifaceted, involving a combination of environmental factors, driver behavior, and, sometimes, pedestrian actions. Understanding these causes is the first step toward creating safer roads and communities for pedestrians.

pedestrian crossing sign on a busy road

You Deserve an Expert Pedestrian Accident Lawyer

If you’ve been injured in a pedestrian accident, the law firm of Doehrman Buba Ring is here to help. Our team of experienced pedestrian accident attorneys in Indianapolis, IN, provides the legal representation and support injured pedestrians need during this challenging time. Contact us today for a free consultation.

What Are The Common Causes Of Pedestrian Accidents In Indiana?

According to the Indiana State Police, there were over 1,500 pedestrian accidents in Indiana in 2020 alone. These accidents resulted in 98 fatalities and over 1,300 injuries. Here are some of the most common causes of pedestrian accidents in Indiana:


Alcohol involvement plays a significant role in the occurrence of pedestrian accidents, often with devastating outcomes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2017, an alarming 47% of traffic incidents that led to pedestrian fatalities involved alcohol consumption by either the driver or the pedestrian, or both. The consideration of alcohol involvement includes situations where alcohol was consumed before the crash by the involved parties. It’s important to clarify that “no alcohol” refers to situations where blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels are at .00 grams per deciliter (g/dL), indicating no alcohol consumption.

A deeper analysis reveals concerning statistics:

  • An estimated 32% of fatal pedestrian crashes involved a pedestrian with a BAC level of .08 g/dL or higher, significantly impairing their judgment and motor skills.
  • Conversely, about 17% of these tragic incidents involved a driver with a BAC of .08 g/dL or above, the legal limit for alcohol impairment across all 50 States.

These figures underscore the critical impact of alcohol consumption on the safety of pedestrians, highlighting the need for stringent measures to curb alcohol-related pedestrian accidents.


Speeding is another significant factor contributing to the occurrence of pedestrian accidents. The faster a vehicle is moving, the less time a driver has to react to a pedestrian in the roadway, and the more severe the impact if a collision occurs. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports that for every ten mph over 50 mph that a vehicle travels, the risk of death or serious injury in a crash nearly doubles. This is particularly concerning in urban areas and school zones, where pedestrians are more prevalent.

In 2020, 60% of pedestrian fatalities happened on busy city streets where the usual speed limits range from 45 to 55 mph.

Statistics show that high-speed areas are disproportionately dangerous for pedestrians. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 20 mph has a 90% chance of survival, but that chance drops significantly to just 50% if the vehicle is traveling at 30 mph, illustrating the lethal risk posed by speeding. Furthermore, in areas where speed limits are consistently exceeded, the frequency and severity of pedestrian accidents increase.

Poor Visibility

Poor visibility is a critical factor in pedestrian accidents, especially concerning the time of day. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveals a striking disparity based on lighting conditions: 75% of pedestrian fatalities occur in dark conditions, compared to 21% in daylight and a mere 4% during dawn or dusk. This statistic highlights the increased risk pedestrians face during nighttime, underscoring the essential need for adequate street lighting, reflective clothing for pedestrians, and heightened awareness from drivers after dark. Enhancing visibility through these measures can significantly reduce the likelihood of accidents by making pedestrians more noticeable to drivers, regardless of the time.

Distracted Drivers

Distracted driving remains a significant threat to pedestrian safety, contributing substantially to accidents. Engaging in activities that divert attention from the road, such as texting, changing the radio station, or using a navigation system, can dramatically increase the likelihood of not seeing pedestrians. Studies suggest that even a few seconds of distraction can lead to catastrophic outcomes, particularly in areas where pedestrian traffic is high. The proliferation of smart devices has exacerbated this issue, signaling a pressing need for tighter regulations and public awareness campaigns focused on the dangers of distracted driving.

Failing to Yield Right of Way

Failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians is another significant contributor to pedestrian accidents, often leading to severe injuries or fatalities. This violation typically occurs at intersections and crosswalks, where drivers may ignore traffic signals or signs that prioritize pedestrian movement. In many instances, drivers may be in a hurry or simply not attentive to the presence of pedestrians, especially in areas with low foot traffic.

Crossing a Roadway or Intersection Improperly

Crossing a roadway or intersection improperly is a notable factor contributing to pedestrian accidents. Often, pedestrians may choose to cross streets at undesignated areas or ignore traffic signals at intersections, putting themselves at greater risk of being struck by vehicles. The legal and safest place to cross is typically at crosswalks or intersections with clear pedestrian signals, yet violations occur for various reasons, including impatience or a lack of nearby crossing points. Even if a pedestrian is crossing a road illegally, both the driver and the pedestrian are responsible for paying attention and avoiding collisions, making it essential for all parties to exercise caution.

watch for bicyclists sign close up on a sunny day

Understanding Pedestrian Accident Occurrences

To grasp where and when pedestrian accidents most commonly occur, it’s essential to break down the pedestrian-car accident statistics from NHTSA:

Location of Accidents:

The majority of pedestrian fatalities, around 73%, happen away from intersections. This means that places other than where roads cross each other—such as roadsides, shoulders, parking zones, sidewalks, and medians—are more likely to be sites of fatal accidents. Only 18% of these unfortunate incidents take place at intersections, underscoring the danger pedestrians face even in non-intersection areas. The remaining 9% occur in various locations, including driveways, shared-use paths, and non-traffic areas.

Time of Day:

A significant pattern emerges when considering the time of day these accidents happen. A vast majority—75%—of pedestrian fatalities occur in the dark. This compares to 21% in daylight and a small fraction (4%) during dawn or dusk. This stark difference highlights the increased risks pedestrians face under low visibility conditions.

Urban vs. Rural Settings:

Urban areas are far more likely to be the scene of pedestrian fatalities, with 80% of deaths happening in these densely populated settings. In contrast, rural areas account for 20% of pedestrian fatalities, suggesting that the higher volume of vehicles and pedestrians in cities significantly contributes to these accidents. 

By understanding these patterns—how the majority of accidents occur away from intersections, primarily in the dark, and predominantly in urban settings—we can better target safety measures and awareness campaigns to reduce pedestrian fatalities.

How to Prevent Pedestrian Accidents

Preventing pedestrian accidents involves efforts from both drivers and pedestrians to ensure safety on the road. Here are some key strategies to help reduce the risk of accidents:

Increase Visibility: Pedestrians should wear reflective or bright clothing at night and carry flashlights to enhance visibility. Drivers should always use headlights during the night and in poor weather conditions to see and be seen.

Stay Alert: Both drivers and pedestrians should stay alert at all times. Pedestrians should avoid using smartphones or headphones that could distract them from their surroundings. Drivers should avoid any form of distraction, like using a phone or eating while driving.

Follow Traffic Signals: Respect and follow all traffic signals and signs. Pedestrians should cross roads only at designated crosswalks or intersections and adhere to walk signals. Drivers should obey speed limits and yield to pedestrians at crosswalks.

Education and Awareness: Regularly engage in community and online educational campaigns to increase awareness about pedestrian safety. This includes teaching children about road safety from an early age.

Implement and Enforce Laws: Strong enforcement of traffic laws related to pedestrian right of way, jaywalking, and distracted driving is crucial. This may involve penalties for violations to deter risky behaviors.

Urban Planning and Infrastructure: Improve infrastructure to make environments safer for pedestrians. This includes installing more streetlights, creating pedestrian-only zones, enhancing crosswalk visibility, and ensuring sidewalks are well-maintained and accessible.

Stay On Paths: Pedestrians should use sidewalks and paths whenever available and avoid walking along highways or places not meant for pedestrian traffic.

By adopting these measures, both pedestrians and drivers can contribute to making the streets safer and preventing pedestrian-car accidents from occurring.

Can You Pursue Compensation as an Injured Pedestrian?

If you have been injured as a pedestrian due to a driver’s negligence, pursuing compensation through a personal injury lawsuit is indeed a viable option. Personal injury law aims to restore the injured party to their condition prior to the accident, covering medical expenses, lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering. A personal injury lawyer plays a crucial role in this process, offering expertise in navigating the legal system, negotiating with insurance companies, and advocating on your behalf in court if necessary.

Holding a negligent driver accountable involves proving that the driver breached their duty of care towards you as a pedestrian and that this breach resulted in your injuries. Evidence such as eyewitness accounts, traffic camera footage, and police reports can be pivotal in establishing fault. An experienced personal injury lawyer will gather the necessary evidence, employ legal strategies tailored to your case, and negotiate a fair settlement. In cases where a settlement cannot be reached, they will represent you in court to ensure that justice is served.

With legal representation, injured pedestrians can focus on their recovery, knowing that their rights are protected and that they have an advocate working to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions. Compensation obtained through a personal injury lawsuit can provide significant financial relief and support the healing process, making it a critical consideration for anyone injured in a pedestrian accident.

school girl pressing the crosswalk button infront of a cross walk, many pedestrian accidents happen due to driver negligence

Our Indiana Pedestrian Accident Attorneys Fight For You

If you or a loved one has been affected by a pedestrian accident, it’s crucial to understand your legal rights and the options available for seeking compensation.

Our team of dedicated pedestrian accident attorneys in Indiana is committed to fighting for the rights of those impacted by such incidents. We understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll these accidents can take on individuals and families. That’s why we offer compassionate yet aggressive legal representation to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. If you’ve been injured in a pedestrian accident, don’t hesitate to contact Doehrman Buba Ring to explore your legal options and learn how we can help you on your path to recovery.

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