Pedestrian accidents on the rise in West Virginia

Pedestrian accidents have been increasing in West Virginia and across the country over the past few years, resulting in thousands of injuries and deaths.

With school out, summer in full swing and the promise of a mild fall in the near future, many West Virginia residents are likely to walk for fresh air and exercise. Whether walking to get in shape or as an affordable and environmentally-friendly form of transportation, millions of people across the U.S. regularly walk to their destinations on a daily basis. While walking is largely a beneficial way to get around, pedestrians face a number of risks when walking near traffic.

Unfortunately, the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities is so concerning that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration aims to increase public awareness of the dangers by urging people to remember that "everyone is a pedestrian." According to the NHTSA, pedestrian fatalities are one of the few accident types to see an increase in recent years, with 4,743 people killed in 2012. 31 pedestrians were killed in West Virginia that year, increasing from 20 in 2011.

Age, road types and other factors increase dangers for pedestrians

Traffic accidents involving pedestrians accounted for almost 15 percent of all fatal accidents in 2012, says Smart Growth America. With more people turning to walking as a family-friendly exercise activity, communities across the country are responding by building or refinishing roads to be safer and more accessible to pedestrians. However, certain roads still remain largely unsafe for people to walk along, such as busy metropolitan roadways or rural highways with undeveloped walking areas and high speed limits.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children and senior citizens are among those most at risk of being involved in a pedestrian accident. This is especially true during the summer months when children are out of school, and many walk daily to friends' homes, swimming pools, parks or other areas where they enjoy spending time.

Older adults may be more at risk because many choose to walk, rather than drive, as they age. In mid-July in Carolina Beach, an 87-year-old man was hit by a car while crossing the street near a condominium complex where he may have lived, reported Star News Online. Tragically, the man was killed.

Places that can be dangerous for pedestrians

Unsurprisingly, some areas carry more of a risk to pedestrians than others. These include:

  • Roadway intersections, even those with marked crosswalks and traffic lights.
  • Driveways and sidewalk areas where cars are parked.
  • Parking lots and garages.

Additionally, it can be harder for drivers to see pedestrians during times of low visibility-such as early morning or twilight when the sun is low in the sky; foggy, rainy or snowy weather; or heavy traffic.

Contact an attorney for help

Pedestrian accidents are almost always sudden and unexpected, and can result in catastrophic medical bills. If you or a family member has been injured in such an accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney for advice.

Keywords: Pedestrian, injury, accident