According to the U.S. Department of Labor, slips, trips, and falls make up the majority of general industry accidents which account for 15% of all accidental deaths per year (the second-leading cause behind car accidents), 25% of all reported injury claims per fiscal year, and more than 95 million lost work days per year (65% of all work days lost).
In general, slips and trips occur due to a loss of traction between the shoe and the walking surface or an inadvertent contact with a fixed or moveable object which may lead to a fall. The following is a non-exhaustive list of situations that may cause slips, trips, and falls:
- Wet or greasy floors
- Dry floors with wood dust or powder
- Uneven walking surfaces
- Polished or freshly waxed floors
- Loose flooring, carpeting, or mats
- Transition from one floor type to another
- Missing or uneven floor tiles and bricks
- Damaged or irregular steps
- No handrails
- Sloped walking surfaces
- Shoes with wet, muddy, greasy, or oily soles
- Electrical cords or cables
- Open desk or file cabinet drawers
- Damaged ladder steps
- Ramps and gang planks without skid-resistant surfaces
- Metal surfaces
- Weather hazards
- Wet leaves or pine needles
A person crossing an intersection foot or walking along a roadway is vulnerable to severe injuries if struck by a motor vehicle.
How Serious is the Problem?
According to a study performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) pedestrians account for almost 16 percent of all annual traffic deaths. That amounts to more than 4,500 pedestrian fatalities every year. As reported by NPR in 2017, distraction is causing a record number of pedestrian deaths. Yet, pedestrian accidents are entirely preventable when both drivers and walkers take proper precautions.
Who is at Risk?
Pedestrians of all ages are at risk of injury or death from traffic crashes, but research has shown that some people are at higher risk. These include:
- Male pedestrians are more likely to die or be injured by a car accident than females
- Teen and young adults (aged 15-29) pedestrians are more likely to be treated in emergency departments for crash-related injuries compared to any other age group
- The rate of pedestrian death generally increases with age
- 34% of all pedestrians killed in traffic crashes had a blood alcohol concentration of greater than or equal to .08 grams per deciliter
How Can Drivers Avoid Pedestrian Accidents?
The likelihood of significant personal injury or death is much greater in vehicle versus pedestrian accidents. Drivers should be aware of their surroundings at all times. It is important to remember that just because pedestrians are supposed to cross at intersections, it does not mean they will. Here are a few seemingly simple tips to help drivers reduce pedestrian-related accidents:
- Put your Phone Away: distraction is the number one cause of most pedestrian deaths.
- Crosswalk Areas: Drivers should be particularly cautious in crosswalk areas. Even if drivers have the right of way, they should be aware of pedestrians and be prepared to stop. Even if the crosswalk is not well marked on the road, drivers should stop far enough back and allow drivers in other lanes to see the pedestrians.
- Overtaking Vehicles: Drivers should not overtake or pass other vehicles stopped for pedestrians.
- Turning: When turning, drivers may be looking closely for a gap in traffic in which to turn through. Drivers should keep in mind that pedestrians may have entered the crosswalk in the meantime. Just as with crossing the street, drivers should look both ways and make sure they are clear before initiating a turn.
- Schools: Drivers should be especially attentive around schools and other neighborhood where children are likely playing. Children can get caught up in a game and forget traffic safety. Drivers should go slow in school zones and neighborhoods and be prepared to stop for children.
How Can Pedestrians Avoid Accidents?
The majority of pedestrian accidents occur when people on foot attempt to cross the street outside of designated crosswalks. Of course, drivers do not expect to encounter people traversing the median or dashing through the middle of the street. Adding to that, some pedestrians attempt to cross the road between intersection, where it is often poorly lit. Even if pedestrians are wearing lightly colored clothing, it can be incredibly difficult for drivers to see them in an unlit area. Pedestrians should remember the following tips to help keep them safe:
- Where to Cross: Whenever possible, pedestrians should cross the street at a designated crosswalk or intersection. Even when crossing at a designated area, pedestrians should use their senses and look both ways before entering the orad in case there are drivers nearby who are not paying attention. Pedestrians should never attempt to cross the street from behind parked cars or behind bushes or other areas where a pedestrian is not expected.
- Increased Visibility: Pedestrians should increase their visibility at night by carrying a flashlight and wearing retro-reflective clothing.
- Sidewalk: While it is safest to walk on a sidewalk, if there is not one available, pedestrians should walk on the shoulder and face traffic.
- Never Assume: Pedestrians should never assume a vehicle is going to stop. They should try to make eye contact with the driver and make sure they stop before entering the road.
- Avoid Distractions: Pedestrians should avoid distractions such as electronic devices.
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