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Hit-and-Run Fatalities Increase for Bicyclists and Pedestrians

May 1, 2018

While trying to get more exercise is a commendable goal, walking or bicycling to work may be hazardous to your health. According to a recent report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, deaths caused by hit-and-run drivers are on the rise. The majority of these victims are pedestrians and bicyclists.

Hit-and-run fatalities increased 61% from 2009 to 2016, the most recent year for which statistics were available. Bicyclists and pedestrians comprised approximately 65% of these victims. The rise in the number of hit-and-run pedestrian accidents was in line with an overall increase in traffic-related fatalities. According to the National Safety Council, auto accident deaths surpassed 40,000 last year, for the second year in a row.

Hit-and-run accident

Distracted Driving Increases the Danger

Researchers believe distracted drivers may be a major cause of the surge in accident-related deaths. Despite the proven dangers, many drivers still text, make calls and adjust their navigation systems while driving. Since a large number of pedestrians are also using cell phones while crossing the street, the results have turned deadly.

With the heightened emphasis on fitness in recent years, walking and bicycling have been touted as effective ways to increase physical activity. While this kind of exercise has many benefits, pedestrians and bicyclists have no protection if they are struck by a motor vehicle. Also, most busy roads do not have designated bike lanes, which makes the possibility of an accident more likely.

Hit-and-Run Drivers Can Face Jail Time

It is illegal in every state for a driver to leave the scene of an accident before the police arrive. Drivers who are found guilty in a hit-and-run accident can incur large fines, lose their driver’s license and even go to jail.

“Despite these stiff penalties, people still drive off after causing an accident,” said Mark Bernstein of The Sam Bernstein Law Firm. “This behavior is irresponsible, illegal and reprehensible, especially when someone has been injured.”

Tips for Safe Walking and Bicycling

  • Keep your eyes and your mind on the road whether on foot or riding a bicycle: pay attention to traffic signals and other drivers.
  • Do not text or use electronic devices while crossing the street or walking in areas where there is traffic.
  • When walking or bicycling at night, wear bright or reflective clothing
  • Make sure your bicycle has proper lights and reflectors.
  • Always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, even for short distances or neighborhood rides.
  • Bicyclists should obey traffic signals, including stop signs and traffic lights.
  • Wait for the appropriate signal before crossing the street.

Safety Tips for Drivers

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety encourages drivers to be aware, cautious, patient and vigilant when sharing the road with pedestrians and bicyclists.

  • Pedestrians who are not paying attention can walk into your path at any point, so stay alert.
  • Watch for small children and pedestrians, especially when driving through or near school zones, playgrounds, bus stops and intersections.
  • When trying to pass a pedestrian or bicyclist, allow plenty of space and keep them in your line of sight.
  • Always yield to pedestrians, even if they walk into the road against the traffic signal or from an area other than a crosswalk.

“Accidents and hit-and-runs can happen even when you take precautions,” said Bernstein. “If you or a loved one was injured in any kind of crash, whether driving, walking or riding a bicycle, contact us as soon as possible. Our experienced auto accident lawyers will help you get the compensation you and your family deserve.”

Call 1-800-CALL-SAM today for a free consultation.

Sources:

https://newsroom.aaa.com/tag/aaa-foundation-for-traffic-safety/

https://www.ghsa.org/issues/bicyclists-pedestrians