30 Seconds Can Change Your Life: Tips to Avoid Car Accidents

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In the original 1975 movie Death Race 2000, drivers accumulate points by hitting unsuspecting pedestrians, as they innocently cross through city streets.  Unfortunately, many motorists in California and throughout the United States drive as if they are qualifiers in the Indy 500.   Too often pedestrians are caught off guard and injured as a result of negligent driving; sometimes, simple accidents can lead to chronic, life-long pain, or even death.  What’s more, those most affected by reckless or careless driving are the young and the elderly, individuals who are often unaware of their environments.  As a driver, you can’t control how pedestrians behave, but you can minimize your chances of hitting an innocent with a few simple tips.


One of the leading causes of pedestrian injuries is exceeding the speed limit.  Studies show that when drivers speed, they are usually doing so in response to time limitations.   Because motorists are so focused on reaching their destination point on time, they forget to be aware of their environment.  Speeding also reduces your response time to any unforeseen obstacle.  If a child runs after a runaway ball, you may not have the time or distance to slow down.  The legal responsibility is unyielding if your speeding contributed to a pedestrian injury.  The likelihood of being found at-fault increases substantially.   Allow yourself 15-20 minutes of travel time to and from destinations, so that you don’t feel the need to speed.

FACT:  A pedestrian has an 85 percent chance of death when involved in a motor/vehicle collision at 40 mph, a 45 percent chance of death at 30 mph, and a 5 percent chance of death at 20 mph.


You may think that most pedestrian collisions occur at intersections, but the reality is that most occur at locations other than intersections.   Again, this is because speed is a contributing factor where maximum speed limits are greater than they are in urban areas.  A good rule of thumb is to look ahead at least 15 seconds (equivalent to about two city blocks in urban areas; equivalent to four city blocks on a highway) to ensure no unsuspected obstacles have found their way onto the road.

FACT: In 2003, 65 percent of accidents involving pedestrians occurred at non-intersections. In 2005, 78 percent of pedestrian deaths in rural areas occurred on roads with speed limits of 40 mph or higher.


Tragedy can strike even before you hit the road.  The University of California Center for Trauma and Injury Prevention Research found: “Most non-traffic child pedestrian injury events are low-speed vehicle back-overs occurring in residential driveways… In these situations, pedestrians are frequently rolled over rather than struck, and the resultant injuries are often severe and fatal.”

Before you step into your car, scan the sidewalk for pedestrian activity.   If you see an abandoned toy, ball, tricycle or other plaything lying near your vehicle, it could mean that a child is nearby.   Be sure to look both ways, using your mirror as you reverse.  Also, make sure to minimize surrounding distractions.   Passenger talking and loud music can drown outside noise.   Take care to exit the driveway slow enough to stop for any unforeseen hazard.  If you drive a van or other large vehicle, or if your driveway has surrounding bushes, it can be helpful to have another person outside, guiding you when it’s safe to back out.


Visibility is a key factor when it comes to pedestrian-related motor injuries.  Driving at night is incredibly challenging, especially in poorly lit neighborhoods.    Still, many motorists will take unnecessary risks like driving with dim headlights (low battery) or driving with one or less headlights, especially at dusk.  If these people are involved in a pedestrian injury, even an injury where the driver believes the pedestrian was at fault, the likelihood of their being found at-fault as a result of faulty headlights increases dramatically.

FACT:  In 2005, 24 percent of pedestrian deaths occurred from

6pm - 9pm and 21 percent occurred from 9pm-midnight.


In 2009, alcohol accounted for more than 31% of all driving fatalities in California.  Despite the warnings, the admonitions from MADD, and the increasing growth of public-awareness programs, people still choose to drive when their blood alcohol level exceeds the legal limit.  If you’re involved in a pedestrian-related vehicular accident, and you’re found to be driving under the influence of alcohol, the law can be especially unyielding.  If you’re the parent of a young adult, make sure to discuss all the available options should they find themselves impaired by alcohol.   Research has found that young adults are less likely to drive under the influence if contingency plans are discussed with their parents beforehand.

FACT:  In 2005, 49 percent of all pedestrian fatalities occurred on Friday (17 percent), Saturday (18 percent), or Sunday (14 percent) – days when drivers are more likely to drink.


Nobody wants to hit a pedestrian while they are driving.  But if you are involved in a pedestrian collision, you will want the peace of mind knowing that negligence wasn’t a factor on your part.  Follow the tips above to increase your chances of avoiding pedestrians, and to minimize your risk of being found at-fault.  Call the personal injury attorneys of Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh at (800) 261-7001 to evaluate your case.  Find us at laylegal.com.