Preventing Pedestrian Injuries – Injury Prevention Week 2020

A woman crossing the road

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APILs) Injury Prevention Week’s main focus is Pedestrian Safety. The number of pedestrian deaths on UK roads has remained broadly static over the past decade. In 2018 it was reported that pedestrians accounted for 26% of road deaths, in figures this was 456 people.

Awareness of road safety is a key issue. In my experience as a personal injury lawyer, many of the cases I’ve worked on have been injuries or deaths that happened while people were crossing the road.

It is important children are taught about the dangers and how to stay safe when crossing the roads, but when we become adults we need to remember those same rules and make sure we follow them. As drivers we also need to be alert to pedestrians crossing, remembering that the greatest duty of care always belongs to us.

Road safety campaigns

The “Green Cross Code” campaigns have been going for many years. Whether you remember Tufty Fluffytail, the Green Cross Man, the hedgehogs or the various other animated characters used to convey the message the principles remain the same:

1. THINK! Find the safest place to cross
2. STOP! Stand on the pavement near the kerb
3. USE YOUR EYES AND EARS! Look all around for traffic and listen
4. LOOK AND LISTEN! When it’s safe, go straight across the road
5. ARRIVE ALIVE! Keep looking and listening.

Children should be taught where safe places to cross are. This includes finding a place where you can clearly see both directions of traffic. Remember, look right, look left and look right again. If possible, a pedestrian crossing or zebra crossing should be used, and you should also try and avoid passing near parked cars as they can obscure you from the view of other drivers.

For accidents where a pedestrian was injured or killed, the pedestrian failing to look properly was reported in 49 per cent of accidents and the pedestrian being careless, reckless or in a hurry was reported in 16 per cent of accidents.

A man pushing a pram crossing a zebra crossing

Are there more road traffic accidents in winter?

Another danger is low level sunlight, especially in winter. This can obstruct drivers view of the road. Be aware of this and make yourself seen by being stood at the kerb. If you are out at night, make sure you wear clothes that are visible. Children can invest in high visibility vest or rain coats with reflective tags. You can also get reflective strips for rucksacks if children are walking to and from school in winter.

Despite what people may think, more accidents occur with children in the summer. It is believed this is linked to higher exposure; better weather and longer days mean more children playing outside.

If using a pedestrian crossing it is important to use the signals available. Wait for traffic to have stopped before crossing. If using a zebra crossing, do not assume you can cross, wait check the cars have seen you and then cross. It is your right of way but you can never be too careful. We have seen cases where someone has crossed a zebra crossing and someone has failed to stop.

In the South West we have many country lanes frequented by dog walkers. It is important to drive safely, slowly and be aware that people may be using the lanes to walk their dogs. A dog walker will usually try to find a safe position to allow you to pass.

As a driver, it is important we pay attention to the roads and their surroundings. If people are waiting to cross, slow down. Pay attention to traffic signals and to marked crossings. Do not assume you have been seen or heard, especially in relation to those that are vulnerable or if you are driving an electric car, which is known to make less noise.

Any road traffic accident can lead to serious injuries but a vehicle v person accident is likely to result in the most serious, including:

1. Fatal Injuries
2. Traumatic brain injury
3. Spinal Injuries
4. Multiple Fractures

Pedestrians on the motorway

As a driver, it is crucial we know what to do when or if our vehicle was to break down. We have unfortunately seen accidents whereby people have exited their cars on main roads and not got themselves to safety.

If your vehicle has a problem on a motorway with no hard shoulder:

• move into the left hand lane and put your hazard lights on
• exit at the next junction or services OR
• follow the orange SOS signs to an emergency area and call for help using the free telephone. This will tell the assistance services your location

If you can’t get off the motorway or to an emergency area:

• move your vehicle as close as possible to the left-hand verge, boundary or slip road
• if you feel you can get out safely with any occupants, consider exiting your vehicle via the left-hand door, and wait behind the safety barrier if there is one and it is safe to do so. Keep clear of your vehicle and moving traffic at all times
• call 999 immediately

If your car stops unexpectedly in any lane and it is not safe to get out:

• Keep your seatbelts and hazard lights on and call 999 immediately
• The Highways Agency will close the lane and send help

If there is a hard shoulder on a motorway, you can use it to stop in an emergency only. If you can, get behind the safety barrier and away from your vehicle and moving traffic. Use the free SOS phone or call Highways England on 0300 123 5000 for help. Do not put out a warning triangle in any circumstances.

By following the green cross code and educating children and adults on the dangers of roads hopefully we can go some way to reducing the number of accidents we see.

Expert road traffic accident lawyers

If you, or another member of your family has been involved in an accident, contact us today to find out more about how we can help.