What Are the Main Causes of a Pedestrian Accidents?

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A child darts in front of a car, a main cause of pedestrian accidents.

Sadly, the NHTSA reports that pedestrian accident-related deaths are on the rise, rising 7.2% in 2020 from 2019. In 2021, 7,485 pedestrian fatalities were reported due to various causes, such as driver distraction, poor road design, excess speed, and road construction sites. This is an 11.5% increase from 2020, making this the largest number of pedestrian fatalities reported in the last four decades. Moreover, of those fatalities, nearly 50% involved alcohol intoxication from either the pedestrian or the driver.

Have you or a loved one been involved in a pedestrian-car accident? Contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Tatum & Atkinson, ‘the Heavy Hitters,’ to receive your free, no-obligation consultation by calling us at (800) 529-0804 or contacting us online.

What Are the Main Causes of Pedestrian Accidents?

Although there can be many causes of pedestrian-car accidents, below are some of the most common causes:


Whether driving or walking, being under the influence of alcohol or drugs increases your risk of being involved in an accident. Intoxication is the most critical factor contributing to pedestrian-driver-related accidents—nearly 50% of car-pedestrian fatalities involved alcohol intoxication of either the driver or the pedestrian.

Driver Distraction

As electronic devices grow in popularity, accidents either caused by distracted drivers or pedestrians are rising. CNN Health reports that the rise of headphone use while walking has contributed significantly to pedestrian fatalities. The epidemic of distracted driving and walking while distracted is causing more and more fatalities annually.

Road Design

Recently, it has been widely argued that many pedestrian fatalities have occurred due to poor road design, such as on arterial roadways, which do not aid pedestrians.


Speeding is often one of the most significant factors contributing to pedestrian fatalities. The faster the vehicle goes when it strikes a pedestrian, the smaller chance the pedestrian has for survival.

Road Construction Sites

When the road is blocked off due to a construction site, it can create a potentially dangerous situation for a pedestrian. Likewise, when pedestrians are forced to walk on the road instead of on the sidewalk due to road construction, it can lead to a pedestrian-vehicle accident.

Pedestrian-Car Accident Liability

If you or a loved one have been injured due to a pedestrian-car accident, it can be a devastating experience. Injuries from these accidents can be significant, resulting in substantial medical expenses, lost wages, or even death. In addition, pedestrian-car accident cases can be complex. For example, what occurs when a pedestrian walks on a roadway with no sidewalk, if walkways are improperly marked, or if signals are out of order? It is best to discuss the unique circumstances of your case with an experienced attorney to see what options you may have.

Do Pedestrians Have Right-of-Way in North Carolina?

When it comes to pedestrians crossing the road or walking alongside it, generally, pedestrians have the right-of-way over vehicles when crossing the street. However, North Carolina law also provides that the pedestrian must exercise reasonable care when crossing the road (e.g., not leaving the sidewalk into the path of an oncoming vehicle). As this area of personal injury law can become murky, it is best to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your case’s facts.

What Happens When a Pedestrian Causes a Collision?

Although many pedestrian-car collisions are due to drivers’ negligence, this is not always the case. For example, in North Carolina, a pedestrian may only recover compensation in a lawsuit against a driver when they did not contribute to the accident due to contributory negligence laws. For example, suppose a pedestrian steps in front of a moving vehicle leaving the driver with no way to avoid contact. In that case, the pedestrian may be liable for the resulting accident. Likewise, they may be held responsible if a pedestrian fails to exercise reasonable care when walking and is distracted or influenced by drugs or alcohol.

The Dangers of Distracted Walking

The increase in pedestrian-related accidents is thought to be due to the rise of cell phone and electronics usage. Pedestrians are responsible for being diligent, observing, and following the law as drivers. Unfortunately, texting or wearing headphones while walking through parking lots or intersections can have disastrous consequences. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has shown that in the past seven years, the number of pedestrians being treated in the emergency room due to distracted walking has quadrupled.

How To Prevent Pedestrian Accidents

Crossing the road can be very risky due to many drivers not minding traffic laws. When crossing the street, several precautions should be taken. Follow the following tips to protect yourself from a pedestrian accident:

  • Look both ways before crossing the road. This is the best precaution to avoid an accident. Just because you have the right-of-way doesn’t mean it is safe.
  • When crossing an intersection, assume that any approaching drivers are unaware of their surroundings or that they won’t stop for pedestrians. Taking an additional level of precaution can help avoid accidents.
  • Attempt to communicate with traffic by ensuring that you are visible, making eye contact with any nearby drivers expressing your intention, or using hand signals.
  • Ensure that there is a buffer space between you and traffic and that you are clearly visible when crossing roads. Attempt crossing with a larger group of people to get the attention of traffic. If you have doubts about crossing in a potentially dangerous spot, walking further to a better crossing area is worth the effort.
  • If walking during the nighttime hours, opt to wear reflective clothing. Nighttime accidents are much more frequent than daytime car-pedestrian accidents due to decreased visibility. Wearing colorful, bright, or reflective clothing or holding a light while walking at night can significantly affect safety.
  • Walk “with” not “against” traffic. When walking on a roadway, walk on the left side of the road facing oncoming traffic. Walk as far from the roadway as possible, using a shoulder or sidewalk if one is available.
  • Take extra care with kids. A small child will not understand the potential consequences of a car collision. When walking with kids, ensure to teach them about walking safety and, if needed, secure small children to strollers or a harness to prevent them from running into the street. As a driver, exercise extra care when driving near parks, schools, or other areas where kids congregate.
  • Reduce any distractions. As a walker, it is essential to remain diligent and check for cars in both directions before walking. Ensure that you are not distracted while walking, such as listening to music, texting, or using your phone, as walking while distracted dramatically increases your risk of injury.

North Carolina Pedestrian Accident Lawyer

At Tatum & Atkinson, ‘the Heavy Hitters,’ we regularly handle pedestrian-car accident cases for clients who have suffered injuries in North Carolina. You may feel worried, frustrated, or confused if you have been involved in a pedestrian accident. It is common to wonder who is responsible for paying your medical expenses or wonder who will be liable for paying for someone’s collision-related damages. An experienced attorney can answer your legal questions, advise you on your best options, and help determine who is at fault. Although pedestrians and drivers can practice safe habits, accidents can still occur, and you should never have to pay for another’s negligence.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a pedestrian accident, don’t delay reaching out to the law offices of Tatum & Atkinson, ‘the Heavy Hitters, ‘ today to see what we can do for you. You will receive a free, no-obligation case evaluation with one of our experienced pedestrian accident attorneys to discuss your legal options. Here at Tatum & Atkinson, the ‘Heavy Hitters’, we accept pedestrian accident cases on a contingency fee basis. This means you will never have to pay attorneys fees out of pocket, and we will not get paid unless you win. Contact us today by calling us at (800) 529-0804 or contacting us online to receive your free case evaluation to see what we can do to help you.