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Are pedestrians safe in crosswalks?

Crosswalks are designed to keep you safe from traffic hazards, which may be exactly why they're so dangerous.

They may give pedestrians a false sense of security -- as if stepping into the road within the confines of a painted crosswalk really offers any special protection from oncoming traffic.

What are some of the reasons pedestrians get injured in crosswalks?

-- Drivers are distracted, eating their lunches from carryout bags while they rush back to work, texting or trying to work their GPS in an unfamiliar area.

-- Drivers will sometimes swerve around a car that's stopped, not realizing that the first driver has braked for pedestrians.

-- Drivers are blinded by the sun, sleet or heavy rain and don't realize there is anyone in the crosswalk.

-- Drivers sometimes run a yellow light or try to jump a red light, hitting a pedestrian that's just a step or two away from the curb.

Other drivers are simply reckless, speeding, intoxicated or medicated.

How serious are the risks?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the next 24 hours, 430 people can expect to be injured in a traffic-related pedestrian accident. Over the course of a year, around 4,700 pedestrians will die after being hit by a car, truck or other vehicle while in a crosswalk.

Probably not surprisingly, the youngest and oldest pedestrians are at the highest risk. Younger pedestrians can't always be seen as they pass in front of large vehicles and older pedestrians move slowly, making them more likely to be the victim of someone who is rushing the light when it turns green.

Children under 14 are also vulnerable because they lack the innate ability to judge distance and speed and aren't as familiar with traffic rules, so they may take risks crossing the street that adults wouldn't.

What can you do to be safer?

The best thing you can do to be safer is to practice "defensive walking," much like drivers use "defensive driving." Keep your focus on the action around you (and away from any electronic devices) on the street, wear reflective clothing and try to travel in groups so that you're all easy to spot together.

Anyone who is injured in a vehicle-pedestrian accident while in a crosswalk has a right to seek compensation for their injuries and other damages. An attorney can give you more information.

Source: CDC - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Walk This Way! Taking Steps for Pedestrian Safety," accessed April 04, 2017

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