In theory, both traffic laws and road design in Illinois can help pedestrians to safely share the road with vehicles of all shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, pedestrians can very easily end up with severe injuries or might even die if they get struck by a vehicle in traffic, especially at higher speeds.
For as long as there have been vehicles, pedestrian collisions have been a concern. Even before that, horses could knock people down and wound or kill them. Despite the known risk and traffic rules that require that motorists share the road with pedestrians, statistics show that it is actually becoming less safe for people to walk on or right next to roads.
More pedestrian crashes occur each year
Motor vehicle traffic has overall become less safe in recent years. There has been a significant increase in the number of collisions that occur due to preventable driving mistakes and also in their severity. Pedestrians are not immune from this trend, and there are thousands of deaths caused when vehicles strike pedestrians in traffic every year. Federal crash records show that pedestrian deaths have increased by 18% between 2019 and 2022. The number of pedestrian fatalities is at a 40-year high, and there’s little indication that early 2023 saw a significant reversal of that trend.
What protects pedestrians?
Traffic laws and personal injury laws both serve to help protect pedestrians. When people walking near vehicles follow the law carefully, they can minimize their personal risk of a collision. If they follow the law, they can use the other party’s responsibility to seek compensation if there is a crash. Insurance will often cover the cost of a pedestrian collision, and those injured or the surviving family members of someone killed in a pedestrian crash could potentially file a civil lawsuit. In theory, people can recover medical expenses and any other costs generated in a crash provided that the driver and not the pedestrian was to blame for the collision.
Using marked crosswalks, paying close attention to traffic and otherwise seeking to minimize personal risk can help protect people from the currently very significant risk of a pedestrian-car collision. And in the event that one occurs, injured pedestrians can seek legal guidance to better understand their rights and options under the law.