Here in Maryland, pedestrians face many personal injury threats, from being hit by a bicycle or motorcycle to being involved in a passenger car-related accident, commuter bus or commercial trucking collision. But while it has been reported that the odds of being involved in a pedestrian accident are rather high in more densely populated urban areas, such as Baltimore and Washington, D.C., the lower vehicle speeds in these areas do not always result in fatalities.
Conversely, in suburban and rural areas, traffic accidents involving persons on foot are much more infrequent, yet the potential for being killed as a result of a pedestrian-car collision is considered higher due to the usually greater speeds in those open areas. As Maryland personal injury attorneys, we know that pedestrian traffic accidents are a fact of life, maybe more in this state than in others, simply due to the fact that we rank sixth in the nation by population density.
More people, walking and mixing with larger volumes of traffic inevitably leads to larger numbers of injuries and deaths. Because vehicle speed plays a significant role in pedestrian fatalities, it would seem that city dwellers and those who work in urban areas may not be safer, but have a lower potential for being killed in a traffic-related collision.
For reference, looking back to the 2008 we see that 112 individuals died as a result of traffic accidents in Maryland. This number of fatal pedestrian accidents made up a fifth of all roadway deaths for that year. Sadly, many of these accidents might have been avoided had the individuals on foot been more attentive to the situation around them. According to Maryland’s State Highway Administration, almost three-quarters of those killed in pedestrian accidents were found to be at fault.
And, as with many automobile and motorcycle wrecks, it was also shown that of those 112 deaths in 2008, alcohol was a factor. In fact, the statistics indicate that fully 40 percent of those killed in pedestrian accidents were impaired due to alcohol. On a side note, 73 percent of those fatal accidents happened after dark, which might also suggest a greater chance for an accident, either because the driver did not see the person or vice versa.
Maryland law provides specific rules for when and where a motorist must stop for a pedestrian who is in a marked or unmarked crosswalk. Yet all the rules in the world cannot prevent a distracted driver or even a drunken pedestrian from causing a serious or fatal roadway accident.
We cannot stress enough the need for caution when crossing streets while on foot in busy traffic areas and especially at night. Although everyone knows that extra vigilance is required when pedestrians are anywhere near cars and trucks, the number of pedestrian accidents each year would indicate that not everyone is exercising sufficient caution when mixing with vehicular traffic.
As Baltimore personal injury attorneys who represent victims of automobile, motorcycle and trucking-related traffic collisions, we are painfully aware of the risks people take every day when crossing near traffic. Take, for instance, the incident that life of a woman on MD 295 late last year. In that case, the teenage victim was found by emergency responders on the side of the road after she unexpectedly stepped into from the shoulder of the roadway directly into the path of a Mack truck. She was pronounced dead on arrival at Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.
In another instance, a pedestrian was killed in Anne Arundel County by a reported hit-and-run driver who later turned himself in to police. Based on news reports at the time, the 37-year-old victim died on a Sunday morning after being struck by a VW Golf along a stretch of Solomons Island Rd. The crash occurred sometime in the early to mid-morning hours. Following news of the incident, a 20-year-old Edgewater man came to police on his own.
Finally, there was a Glen Burnie accident that took the life of a man who apparently failed to yield to the vehicular traffic along a stretch of Furnace Branch Rd near South Meadow. The accident happened in the early morning hours when the pedestrian reportedly stepped into the path of an oncoming car around 3:30am. Following the collision, the driver of the vehicle called 911 to get help for the victim. Sadly, once emergency personnel had arrived, the man was pronounced dead at the scene. Police stated that it did not appear that alcohol or vehicle speed was the cause, but that pedestrian error was likely contributing factor.
One killed, two injured in three pedestrian accidents in Arundel; BaltimoreSun.com; November 20, 2012
Pedestrian killed in Arundel hit-and-run identified, BaltimoreSun.com, August 15, 2012
Pedestrian struck, killed in Glen Burnie; BaltimoreSun.com; September 25, 2011