In mid-November 2012, an automobile hit two 20-year-old engineering students on the urban campus of Marquette University in Milwaukee while they walked on a sidewalk early on a Monday morning. The women were hospitalized with serious, but nonfatal, injuries. Reportedly, the driver proceeded to strike another car, a hydrant and a pole in an apparent hit-and-run, before being stopped by law enforcement.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, which defines a pedestrian as anyone walking or using a mobility device like a wheelchair, about 60 pedestrians die annually in the state when hit by motor vehicles. Another 1,600 are injured the same way each year. WisDOT reports further that seniors over 75 and kids from 5 to 9 are “particularly vulnerable.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirm that WisDOT’s findings are consistent with national observations. The CDC says that across the country pedestrians are “1.5 times more likely” than motor-vehicle passengers are to die in car accidents, not surprising considering the relative vulnerability of bodies hit directly by moving vehicles with no barriers. On average, a U.S. pedestrian dies in an automobile crash about every eight minutes.
The CDC also shares these facts about pedestrian-car collisions:
- Alcohol is involved in almost half of these crashes, either having been consumed by drivers or pedestrians.
- Higher car speeds increase the chances of pedestrian accidents.
- More pedestrian fatalities happen in the city, away from intersections and after dark.
Pedestrians can increase the odds of avoiding such mishaps by using crosswalks, wearing reflective clothes and using flashlights after dark, behaving defensively at intersections, using sidewalks where available and walking against traffic if they must be in the street, according to the CDC.
Also, the American College of Surgeons specifically calls upon parents and caregivers of young kids to be vigilant in supervision of young kids around traffic, and upon everyone to avoid using mobile devices like cellular phones and iPods.
Common injuries surgeons see after pedestrian-car accidents include broken legs, fractured pelvises and broken ribs, with older patients tending to have multiple fractures. Younger patients tended to have more minor injuries, including “skin scrapes.”
If you or a loved one suffers a pedestrian accident, talk to an experienced Wisconsin personal injury about your rights and potential legal remedies such as a personal injury lawsuit for negligence or for wrongful death.