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Pedestrian accident lawyers in Mobile, Alabama

Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents Could Increase During Coronavirus Shutdowns

In a matter of weeks, life as we know it has completely changed. Once-bustling Main Streets are completely shut down, and the businesses that remain open are staffed by mask-wearing employees serving mask-wearing customers, both parties trying to limit contact as much as possible.

The coronavirus shutdown has changed society in a number of unexpected ways. To start, consider traffic. Work commutes that once took upward of an hour can now be completed in half an hour or less. As you may expect, this has also impacted accident rates—both for accidents only involving vehicles and accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians or bicyclists.

Roads Are Already Deadly for Pedestrians

To be clear, roads have not been an entirely safe place for pedestrians for a long time. As more people turn to walking to get their daily exercise and fresh air, this trend is expected to worsen. Pedestrian fatalities have increased 60% since 2009, compared to a 2% increase in all other traffic deaths between 2009 and 2018.

Decreases in Traffic Accidents

With fewer cars on the road, you might expect roads to be generally safer for those who are forced to head out to do essential work every day. In one way, you’d be right. The number of car crashes is decreasing across the country, but that plays out differently in each local area. In some areas, car crash numbers are actually increasing. Without traffic to keep them slow and steady, some drivers are engaging in more reckless behavior and putting other who are driving, biking, and walking at risk.

On the flip side, car accidents in California have decreased by about 50% since shelter-in-place orders were announced. This is with a 60% decrease in overall traffic, so perhaps California drivers are not taking unnecessary risks. While data is not yet available for Alabama, it is still important to stay cautious while driving.

…But It’s Not All Good News

While the number of car accidents is decreasing across the country, some numbers have risen sharply. Injury and fatality rates, both for drivers and others involved in crashes, have seen a substantial increase.

This may be partially attributed to the behavior leading to car crashes. Not only are drivers engaging in more reckless behavior, the stress of this unpredictable time is likely to leave lots of drivers distracted while behind the wheel. When you combine distractibility, aggressive driving, and the false belief that the roads are safer, you can end up with some unexpected problems.

Additionally, think about the load on health care facilities at this time. Emergency rooms across the United States are focusing on coronavirus patients. And when you add in the other health problems that bring people to emergency rooms, emergency health care personnel in many areas are overwhelmed. With higher care needs, fewer staff, and COVID-19 patients with higher priority, it’s not surprising that those who are involved in car accidents are less likely to get the care they need than they were six weeks ago.

Bike Accident Statistics in the Age of Coronavirus

To understand how coronavirus has changed bike accidents, take a look at New York City. As the current epicenter of the country’s coronavirus crisis and a place where many people have turned to alternate transportation modes, it is a good predictor of what other communities may soon experience. Compared to the week of March 8 to March 15 last year, the same period this year experienced a 43% increase in bicycle accidents in New York City. This comes after a steady decrease in bicycle accidents over a period of several years in New York City, so the increase is alarming. The creation of pop-up bike lanes has been pitched as a possible solution.

What to Do to Protect Yourself

During this time, it is crucial to do everything possible to protect yourself and avoid ending up in the emergency room. Start with these tips:

  • Avoid all non-essential travel
  • If you go outside to exercise and get fresh air, choose quieter side streets and sidewalks instead of busy main roads
  • Put reflective strips on your clothes or bike if you are outside after dark
  • Make sure you have a reliable way of getting help if you are involved in an accident
  • Keep your identification on you at all times in case you need emergency assistance
  • Consider sharing your location on your phone with a loved one so they can make sure you are safe

These are uncertain times for all of us, but we can get through it together. Stay safe, watch out for others, and do whatever you can to make life a little easier and more enjoyable. Find out what we’re doing to help or call the team at Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C. to discover how we can help you with your legal issues during this time.

pedestrian accident attorney in Mobile, AL

Do Pedestrian Accidents Increase in the Summer?

Pedestrians are the most vulnerable people on Alabama’s roads, and their lack of protection puts them at an elevated risk of suffering severe and even fatal injuries in a traffic accident. But when discretionary travel increases during the summer months, this can create a spike in these dangerous and deadly incidents.

When the weather warms up, more people make time for vacations, summer get-togethers, road trips, festivals, and outdoor exercising, creating congested and often perilous conditions on the roads. According to a Governors Highway Safety Association report, a pedestrian is killed every hour in an accident, but this rate could increase as much as 10 percent during the summer months.

Common Risks Alabama Pedestrians Face

According to the Alabama Department of Transportation, there were 932 pedestrian-involved accidents in 2016, the highest rate on record. Since 2008, pedestrian fatalities in this state have soared 56.9%. Even though there is a risk to pedestrians on any day and at any time, the danger may be elevated during the summer due to several factors:

  • An increase in out-of-state drivers on vacation and overall vehicle traffic, and
  • An increase in pedestrian traffic, including more exercisers, tourists, and children playing.

This combination can be a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, drivers cause a majority of pedestrian accidents, and the people not protected by vehicle safety technology are the most vulnerable to harm. Some of the most common driver errors that cause these tragic events include:

  • Distracted driving. Alabama has laws that limit the use of electronic devices in vehicles, but distracted driving remains a pervasive issue. Whether a driver ignores the law or is within the law and is still not paying attention to the road, this is a valid concern for pedestrians that can be seriously harmed or even killed.
  • Speeding. People tend to be in just as much of a hurry when they are on vacation as when they aren’t. Drivers disregard speed limits and the rules of the road to get to their destination faster, and this puts a greater number of pedestrians outside in danger.
  • DUI. Drinking, drugs, and driving don’t mix well together and this is a highly illegal practice. While it’s tempting to relax with a few drinks during the summer, this slows reaction time when driving and increases the risk of hitting another car or pedestrian.
  • Inexperienced new drivers. During the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day, there are more inexperienced teen drivers on the road who can get into a crash with a pedestrian. AAA reports that the average number of fatal crashes among teens goes up 15% during this period.

Important Safety Reminders for Pedestrians

Everyone is a pedestrian at some point, and you can’t always count on drivers to follow the rules and keep you safe. Being proactive can not only help you avoid injury, but it might also save your life. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, here are a few pedestrian safety tips:

  • Avoid wearing dark clothing, particularly at night. Instead, wear bright clothing that helps keep you visible. Use reflective clothing or carry a flashlight after dark.
  • Avoid darting unexpectedly into traffic or walking between vehicles. Cross the road only at intersections and preferably using crosswalks.
  • Avoid using alcohol and drugs.
  • Don’t walk distracted by using a phone or headphones.
  • Don’t assume that a driver sees you or is going to obey the rules of the road. Use defensive techniques and stay alert to your surroundings.
  • When available, walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the shoulder and face into traffic. Avoid walking on highways or roads that are meant for vehicles only.

Protecting Your Rights After a Pedestrian Accident in Alabama

If you or someone you care about has been the victim of a pedestrian accident in the Mobile area, it’s important to understand that the system is not designed to work in your favor. While you have the right to make a claim for damages against the responsible party, collecting compensation isn’t a simple matter.

Insurance companies are notorious for denying these claims or offering accident victims much less than their case is worth. They may even resort to blaming you for the accident so that you will be barred from recovery, which is why we recommend that you never speak to insurers without sound legal representation in your corner.

At Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C., we are fierce legal advocates for the victims of pedestrian accidents and their loved ones. If this accident wasn’t your fault, we’ll help you hold the responsible parties accountable and fight to collect the compensation you deserve. Contact us now at (251) 260-3815 to schedule a free consultation.