The best way for you to avoid getting hit by a car when you're
walking is to be aware of the situations that most often lead to
About 12 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths each year
involve pedestrians, according to the Insurance Institute for
Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Highway Loss Data Institute.
If it seems that most of the pedestrians you observe taking
risks in traffic are male, you are right, according to IIHS.
Pedestrians were almost always judged to be at fault in
midblock and "intersection dash" accidents, in which pedestrians
enter the path of traffic, according to a 2002 study of
pedestrian deaths in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. People on
foot were judged to be at fault 50 percent of the time compared
to 39 percent for drivers.
Drivers are usually at fault in crashes where vehicles turned,
backed up or went off the road.
Here's how to avoid getting hit by cars when you're
- Wait and look. Always wait for the traffic signal to turn
green before crossing the street, and even then, look around.
"Every pedestrian who is hit by a car never saw the car
coming," says Thomas J. Simeone, a Washington, D.C., attorney
who represents accident victims. "That's why they entered the
- Dress to be seen. The crosswalk may not be the right place
to make a fashion statement, but the clothing you choose can
make a difference to your safety, says Stephanie Schwartz, the
owner of Roadrunner Traffic School in Arizona. "Pedestrians can
always help ensure their own safety by wearing lighter colors,"
- Don't wander into the street while walking next to the
road. Use sidewalks whenever possible. If there are no
sidewalks, it's usually better to walk facing oncoming traffic.
Also, stay away from freeways and restricted areas.
- Don't cross the road at a curve. Make sure you cross where
approaching drivers can see you clearly.
- Try to make eye contact with drivers before stepping onto
the highway. It's a mistake to assume that drivers always see
- Don't walk near traffic while tipsy. Alcohol and drugs can
affect your ability to walk safely and make good judgments
Watch out for quiet hybrid cars
New technology may be putting walkers at greater risk. As more
gasoline-electric hybrid cars hit the road, an increasing number
of pedestrians are claiming that they never heard the car that
struck them. A NHTSA study that examined the crashes of hybrid
cars and similar non-hybrid cars found that the percent of
crashes involving pedestrians was 40 percent higher for
Dealing with car insurance companies
If you are hit by a car while walking, you can file a
claim against the driver. Just like a car-to-car accident, you
want to try to get the driver's information at the scene of the
accident and make a police report.
- Gather all evidence that supports your car insurance claim,
including the names of witnesses. Then notify the driver's
insurance company of your claim.
- If you have a no-fault auto insurance policy or are making
a claim for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (for a
hit-and-run accident, for example), you must submit the claim
to your own car insurance company.
- If the driver's
isn't enough to compensate you, you can hire an attorney and
take the matter to court. You're entitled to be "made whole"
following an accident. That may include compensation for
medical bills as well as pain and suffering, lost wages from
work, emotional distress and property loss.
"People need to approach crossing a street as if their life
depended on it, because it does," says David Snyder, vice
president and associate general counsel for the American
Insurance Association. "All too often we take day-to-day
activities, although hazardous, lightly."