Ralph A. Schwartz, P.C.

How can pedestrians protect themselves from dangerous drivers?

An SUV struck a man who was crossing the street by the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino on Saturday night, killing him. On Sunday afternoon, a pedestrian was in critical condition following a crash near Desert Breeze Park. This is clearly a problem in our area that isn't going away-in fact, it seems worse than ever. What can you do to protect yourself when you're on foot, besides looking both ways?

  • Don't suddenly appear out of the darkness. A third of deadly crashes occur between 8pm and midnight. Cross streets where there are lights. Wear clothing that is light-colored or reflective, if possible. Always try to cross the street near a streetlight or find another brightly lit area or intersection.
  • Don't use your phone while you cross the road, and don't use headphones. Being a distracted pedestrian is dangerous. If you aren't paying attention and listening, you won't know what's going on around you.
  • Don't drink and walk. Just as being distracted while you walk is a bad practice, so is walking while you're impaired. Here's an interesting (and worrisome) fact: about 50 percent of car/pedestrian accidents involve alcohol use-and a third of those were due to pedestrians consuming alcohol, not drivers. Your perceptions and coordination will be affected, which could cause you to make bad decisions about how much time you have to cross.
  • Do use the crosswalk, but don't think that means you are automatically safe. Many drivers don't stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, either because they don't see people or because they think drivers have the right of way at all times. You can't know what the approaching driver is thinking, so assume they're not stopping.
  • Do try to make eye contact so that you know if the drivers approaching you can see you. If you can't, they might be on their phones. As the crossing sign says, WAIT.
  • If there isn't time to make eye contact due to the speed of traffic, again, WAIT. You can make up time later once you've safely crossed.

The responsibility for many accidents doesn't lie with the pedestrian(s) involved, of course. Often, they have done everything right, only to be hit by a speeding vehicle with a careless driver who didn't stop in time, or by a negligent driver who was not paying attention to the road. If this has happened to you or someone in your family, talk to an attorney about what actions you can take.

Our streets shouldn't be so dangerous for pedestrians, but they are-for now.

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