Washington and Oregon both take pedestrian safety seriously, especially since data suggests pedestrian accidents have been slowly increasing -- as outlined in Washington State Department of Transportation's 2018 report or as identified in Oregon's Crash Statistics & Reports.
These increases are surprising given that advanced technology has been implemented in strategic ways as preventative measures.
In fact, cities across these two states have been making efforts to improve pedestrian safety via technology and infrastructure, and they are spending a lot of money to do so. For instance, in 2017, Seattle announced plans to invest $22 million into programs like the Vision Zero safety program to increase safety and reduce accidents.
So, where are these accidents occurring and why do they continue to occur and indeed increase in the face of substantial measures to prevent them? Maybe more importantly, when are these accidents most likely to occur?
Where Are Pedestrian Accidents Happening?
The answer is one that could have been predicted: busy intersections. We do not yet live in a perfect, smart world where automobiles and infrastructure communicate so that accidents do not occur.
Though technology is predicting that future, it is not here yet. Technology is, however, helping automobiles to identify objects around them better. But technology is also creating extra distractions.
Drivers texting at intersections -- whether the vehicle is stopped for a light, slowing down, or moving forwards -- are less likely to be paying attention to their surroundings. At the same time, pedestrians are more likely to be in these areas.
Some pedestrians may try to cross when the signal indicates time is running out, or a pedestrian may try to cross quickly even though the signal instructs no crossing. Still, in other cases, the pedestrian may be doing everything right, i.e, cross when the crosswalk indicates she or he can or stop when the crosswalk signal indicates the same.
Yes, a distracted driver paying too much attention to his or her cell phone and not enough attention to pedestrians on or near the road is dangerous for everyone involved.
When Are Pedestrian Accidents Most Likely To Happen?
Knowing where the pedestrian accidents are happening is only part of the equation. When they are most likely to happen is also an important part of the discussion. And here, too, the answer may seem a bit obvious but worth mentioning: summertime and nighttime.
Summertime is an obvious time period. The weather is nice so more people are out enjoying it. But not only are people out and about enjoying the weather, but there are also more people on the roads driving from place to place for outings, or vacation, or otherwise taking trips because it is the season to do so.
Thus, more people on, off, and near the roads means more potential for accidents to happen.
Nighttime is another obvious time when more pedestrian accidents are likely to occur.
Though there are fewer people walking around at night, for those of you who are, it's harder for drivers to see you, even in or near intersections that are well-lit. If you are a pedestrian, you may want to consider wearing some type of reflective gear while walking on or near roads at night.
How To Prevent a Pedestrian Accident?
Prevention is in your hands. If you are a pedestrian, pay extra attention to the cars on the road, don't trust cars to stop just because you want to sprint across the street -- even if you have a green light indicating you can go. Keep your eyes open.
Keep your wits about you. Wear proper clothing at night. And just be cautious. Pedestrians can get distracted with their cell phones or their companions just as much as motorists can. Everyone needs to keep their eyes on the road in order to prevent and protect each other from accidents.