Pedestrian accidents are a distressing and prevalent issue in California. Across the nation, pedestrian deaths represent nearly 15 percent of automobile accident fatalities, and California leads the nation in this horrifying statistic. In 2015, the number of pedestrian deaths in traffic accidents in California was at 23 percent.

Fortunately, the rate of pedestrian deaths and injuries has been decreasing over the past several decades. However, our most vulnerable people, senior citizens and young children, remain the populations at highest risk of pedestrian injury and death.

Common Causes

Surprisingly, the most catastrophic pedestrian accidents don’t occur at intersections. Crosswalks, signal lights and the expectation of foot traffic help to reduce the incidence of these types of accidents. While intersection collisions are responsible for many pedestrian vs. car occurrences, the clear majority of the more serious pedestrian accidents happen elsewhere.

A large part of the problem with pedestrian collisions is the element of surprise. Most drivers expect pedestrian traffic at intersections, so they usually take additional precautions. However, when people traveling by foot attempt to cross busy roadways outside of intersections, disaster often ensues. Some contributing factors in these situations as well as in intersections include the following:

  • Speeding
  • Cell phones
  • Unmarked crosswalks
  • Impaired visibility
  • Quiet vehicles
  • Left-hand turns
  • DUI/DWI/Drug Use
  • Failure to adhere to traffic signals

Common Injuries in Pedestrian Accidents

When a pedestrian is injured in a traffic incident, serious injury is typically the outcome. Pedestrian injuries are caused via three different types of impact:

  • The highest incidence is due to impact with a vehicle.
  • Contact with the ground is next.
  • Being struck by other objects comes in third.
  • This physical trauma can lead to long-term injury to many areas of the body. Some common physical consequences include the following:
  • Traumatic brain Injury (TBI)
  • Fractures
  • Paralysis
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Coma

Pedestrian Accidents and Catastrophic Brain Injury

The most common injury suffered by children in pedestrian traffic accidents is to the head and neck. In adults, these types of injuries are the second most common. Brain injuries are one of the more severe consequences of a pedestrian accident.

In many cases, the victim may not even realize the severity of their head injury if there is no visible head wound. But concussions and other impact to the head can lead to catastrophic TBI with lifelong consequences. For young children, who are frequent victims of these types of accidents, the resulting impact is often long-term and life-altering.