There have been extensive educational programs to reduce driving under the influence, but less attention aimed at reducing walking under the influence. Experts believe that if a person is too drunk to get behind the wheel, they are likely to be too drunk to walk home safely in the dark as well. Many people don’t realize how big a problem it is to be walking around outside when you are impaired. When alcohol factors into a pedestrian death, often the walker may be impaired.
Pedestrian deaths jumped 27 percent from 2007 to 2016, even as other U.S. traffic deaths dropped. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one third of pedestrians killed in crashes in 2016 were over the legal alcohol limit for drivers. That is close to 2,000 people, a rise of over 300 people since 2014. According to federal data, distracted walking and alcohol consumption are often contributing factors.
Drivers often do not see impaired pedestrians until it is too late. The accidents are mostly at night, the victims are typically men between the ages of 21 and 59, and they are crossing mid-block instead of at a crosswalk. If a person’s reflexes are impaired they can’t respond as quickly to an oncoming vehicle, or may accidentally stumble into the road.
Many times the physical design of a city and the streets contribute to pedestrian deaths. In Austin, Texas, 19 people died from 2016-2017 along a dangerous stretch of Interstate 35. It is an eight lane highway with a concrete barrier in the middle lined with fast food restaurants on one side and cheap motels on the other. Inebriated pedestrians cross the highway on frontage roads, even though there is a bridge over the highway one quarter mile away. Austin officials are working to provide safer crossings and improve street lighting.
In Delaware, 77 drunk walkers died in a five year period, about half of all pedestrian deaths in the state. In response to these statistics, officials have introduced an educational campaign to teach the public about the problem. They are sending out teams to talk to pedestrians and passing out reflective wristbands.
Safety experts would like states to increase their campaigns against drunk driving to include pedestrians and bicyclists choosing safe rides home after drinking. Experts believe that designing safer roads should be a priority. They suggest to lower speed limits, to improve lighting in high traffic pedestrian areas, and to redesign roads to include pedestrian barriers, medians, and bridges.
If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident as a pedestrian, contact a pedestrian accident lawyer, like a pedestrian accident lawyer in Phoenix, AZ, for help creating a case.
Thanks to The Law Office of Paul Englander, PLC for their insight into the dangers of walking on the road while impaired.