Broderick Law Firm, LLC

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Pedestrian Freeway Deaths are More Common Than You’d Think

Early in April, a Boston man was killed in a hit-and-run accident on I-93. Early reports indicated that police didn’t know why the victim was walking on the interstate. But, he wasn’t the first person to be struck by a car and killed on I-93 this year. In February, a 22-year-old woman who had gotten out of a friend’s car on the interstate was hit by one or more vehicles and found dead near Exit 32.

 

And, these aren’t isolated incidents.

 

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), more than 800 pedestrians die each year after being hit on interstates and other freeways. Some of these accidents involve pedestrians walking illegally along the interstate, or traveling another roadway on foot. But, about 40% of pedestrians killed on interstates and other freeways were crossing the road. And, 18% are drivers and passengers who have exited a disabled vehicle.

 

IIHS concludes that, although these roads aren’t designed for walking, a significant number of pedestrians do enter them. The organization suggests making this type of roadway safer for pedestrians through strategies such as:

 

  • Improving lighting
  • Constructing pedestrian overpasses and underpasses in areas with high pedestrian traffic
  • Promoting alternative travel routes

 

However, this type of change won’t take place quickly, and can’t solve the whole problem. Both drivers and pedestrians themselves must play a role in improving pedestrian safety in environments not designed for foot traffic.

Protecting Against Pedestrian Accidents on the Interstate

For drivers, the necessary precautions are simple–but not consistently practiced. The key to avoiding hitting a pedestrian on the freeway or interstate is the same as it is in any other context: remaining vigilant and allowing sufficient time to stop or re-route the vehicle. Speeding, distracted driving, driving while fatigued, operating under the influence and other negligent behaviors increase the risk of all types of motor vehicle accidents, including pedestrian accidents.

 

It’s especially important to be vigilant on the interstate because pedestrians are unexpected and the high rate of speed increases risk. That’s partly because the driver has less time to adjust and partly because striking a pedestrian at a higher rate of speed is much more likely to be fatal.

 

Precautions for Pedestrians

The best way to avoid being hit by a car on an interstate or other freeway is to avoid walking along or crossing an interstate or freeway. The combination of design, infrequency of pedestrian traffic, possible vehicle traffic congestion, high rates of speed and other factors make it a very risky environment for foot travelers.

 

If you must cross a freeway, be vigilant. If you know you’ll be crossing a freeway at night, wear reflective or otherwise visible clothing. And, make sure you’re fully alert. 40% of those who were hit by cars and killed crossing a freeway were legally intoxicated. Though intoxication was much less common among those who were hit in other contexts, such as after exiting a disabled vehicle, alcohol played a significant role across accident types.

 

If your car breaks down and you must travel along the interstate, stick to the shoulder of the road, as far from traffic as possible.

Who is Responsible for Pedestrian Accidents on the Interstate?

Pedestrians on the freeway often play a role in their own injuries or deaths. Depending on the circumstances, simply walking on the interstate may be illegal. Intoxicated pedestrians may be found to have been negligent. And, those are just two examples of situations in which the pedestrian may be found partially responsible for the accident. But, the injured pedestrian or surviving family may still be able to recover compensation. That’s because injury victims in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire can recover partial damages if they were not more than 50% responsible.

 

If you are a pedestrian who has been injured in traffic or you have lost a loved one to a pedestrian accident, it’s in your best interest to get guidance from an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Kevin P. Broderick has been fighting for fair compensation for injury victims for years. He knows how stressful and confusing the aftermath of a serious accident can be, and offers free consultations to help you gather the information you need. Just call 978-459-3085.

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