Pedestrians Face Several Challenges to Walk Safely

Glenn Honda | | Pedestrian Accidents

Hawaii is a beautiful place to experience on foot. Whether enjoying the Honolulu nightlife, hiking on trails, or parking roadside to get to the beach, pedestrians can enjoy countless wonderful experiences on Oahu.

Unfortunately, pedestrians on highways, city streets, parking lots, and any place frequented by vehicles face a growing national crisis. In 2019, the Governors Highway Safety Association reported nearly 6,600 pedestrian deaths nationwide, the highest the figure has been in 30 years. Closer to home, approximately 25 pedestrians die each year in Hawaii after being struck by a passing vehicle.

If you or a loved one was injured by a car while walking, contact the Recovery Law Center today. Getting maximum compensation means acting swiftly to prevent valuable evidence from being lost. Our pedestrian accident lawyer in Honolulu can help you pursue compensation to assist with your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.

Pedestrian Accidents in Hawaii: Why is it Common?

Pedestrian accidents pose a serious public health concern in Hawaii, partly due to the state’s high pedestrian fatality rate, especially among older adults. In a recent year, the Hawaii Department of Transportation reported 92 fatalities caused by motor vehicle collisions statewide, indicating a decrease from the previous year’s 112 fatalities. This improvement in traffic safety is attributed to better driving behaviors, such as reduced speeding and DUI incidents among truck drivers and increased use of sober drivers.

EMS & Injury Prevention System Branch highlights Injury prevention as a major focus in Hawaii. This is because injuries are the leading cause of death for individuals from age one through age 40 in the state, surpassing diseases like heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Injuries also stand as the third leading cause of death among residents of all ages.

On average, 13 residents die from an injury each week, 109 are hospitalized, and nearly 1,600 are treated in emergency departments. The financial toll of injury-related hospitalizations in Hawaii is estimated at $390 million annually.

Main Challenges Faced by Pedestrians

Young black couple jogging in Brooklyn street

Infrastructure Issues

  • Lack of Pedestrian Facilities: This includes missing or inadequate sidewalks, crosswalks, and pedestrian signals, essential for safe navigation in urban and suburban environments.
  • Poor Maintenance and Accessibility: This includes issues like cracked sidewalks, overgrown paths, and the absence of ramps for individuals with mobility issues.
  • Inadequate Safety Features: The lack of proper lighting, pedestrian refuge islands, and marked zebra crossings contribute to unsafe environments, particularly in areas with high vehicle traffic.

Traffic-Related Concerns

  • High-Speed Traffic and Reckless Driving: Speeding cars and reckless driving behaviors increase the risks of vehicular traffic accidents.
  • Inadequate Road Design: Road design often prioritizes vehicles over pedestrians, with wide roads, long crosswalks, and high-speed limits that increase pedestrian risks. 

Societal and Behavioral Factors

  • Distracted Walking and Jaywalking: This involves distracted walking and jaywalking—for instance, the impact of smartphone use and the tendency to cross roads unsafely.
  • Lack of Awareness and Education: The lack of awareness about pedestrian rights and safety among drivers and pedestrians contributes to this challenge. The need for pedestrian safety programs and learning safety tips promotes safe walking practices and respectful sharing of road space.

Policy and Enforcement Challenges

  • Weak Enforcement of Traffic Laws: This involves insufficient enforcement of speed limits, right-of-way laws, and distracted driving regulations, which undermines pedestrian safety.

The Big Three: Speeding, Short Lights, and SUVs

According to Schmitt, the combination of speeding, short lights, and SUVs is a triple threat to pedestrian safety. Consider these statistics:

  • Less than 5 percent of pedestrians die when struck by a vehicle traveling less than 20 miles per hour. But for those struck by vehicles traveling 40 miles per hour or more, the risk of death rises to 65 percent. At 60 miles per hour, the force of the blow is like falling off a twelve-story building.
  • Traffic engineers generally program lights to provide enough time for people to cross at a pace of 3.5 feet per second. This is too fast for many older people, leaving them stranded in oncoming traffic. Suburban roads are the deadliest.
  • Multiple studies have demonstrated that SUVs are much more likely than cars to kill pedestrians when collisions occur, according to Schmitt. They are growing in sales volume and are deadlier to pedestrians than sedans because they are more likely to strike a pedestrian in the torso, where vital organs are located.

What to Do If You Are a Victim of a Pedestrian Accident in Hawaii

Man crossing the road

If you’re walking safely but still became a victim of a pedestrian accident in Hawaii, taking the right steps immediately after the incident can significantly affect your ability to recover damages and receive appropriate medical care. Here are the steps you need to take:

  1. Seek Medical Attention: Your health is the top priority. Even if you believe your injuries are minor, symptoms can appear or worsen days after the accident. A medical professional can thoroughly examine and document your injuries, which is crucial for insurance claims or legal action.
  2. Report the Accident: Contact local law enforcement to report the accident. The police will create a report essential for insurance claims and legal proceedings. Ensure your version of events is included in the report.
  3. Gather Information: Collect as much information as possible at the accident scene. This includes the driver’s contact and insurance information, witness contact information, and photos of the accident scene, your injuries, and any damage to the vehicle involved.
  4. Document Everything: Keep detailed records of your medical treatments, any time missed from work, interactions with insurance companies, and any other expenses related to the accident. This documentation will be vital for insurance claims and potential legal action.
  5. Avoid Discussing Fault: Be cautious about what you say after the accident. Do not discuss fault at the scene with the driver or insurance companies without legal representation.
  6. Contact Your Insurance Company: Inform your insurance company about the accident. Your policy may make you eligible for benefits regardless of who was at fault.
  7. Consult a Personal Injury Attorney: Pedestrian accident cases can be complex, and Hawaii’s laws may affect your ability to recover damages. It’s wise to consult with an attorney specializing in personal injury law and who has experience with pedestrian accidents in Hawaii. An attorney can guide you through the legal process, help you understand your rights, and work to ensure you receive fair compensation.
  8. Follow-up on Medical Treatment: Follow-up with medical treatment as healthcare professionals advise. Ongoing treatment not only aids in your recovery but also documents the extent of your injuries.
  9. Be Cautious with Settlement Offers: Be wary of early settlement offers from insurance companies. Such offers may not fully cover your medical expenses and other damages. Consult with your attorney before accepting any settlement.
  10. Understand Hawaii’s Laws: Hawaii operates under a modified comparative negligence system, meaning your compensation may be reduced if you’re found to be partially at fault for the accident. Specific statute limitations exist for filing injury claims, so acting promptly is important.

Contact a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer in Honolulu Today

Pedestrians often encounter obstacles while striving for safe walking. The risks are numerous and varied, from the high speeds of passing vehicles to the unpredictable hazards of parked cars. Notably, pedestrian deaths have become a pressing concern. This needs increased vigilance and proactive measures for pedestrian safety.

The dangers of bad weather, other obstacles, and poorly marked crosswalks, particularly in school zones, cannot be overstated. These factors make walking more dangerous, showing the need for new ways to improve road safety. For pedestrians, this includes making eye contact with drivers, wearing bright clothing to improve visibility, and always walking facing traffic when sidewalks are not available.

Another critical aspect is crossing streets safely, with traffic control signals and stop signs pivotal tools in managing the flow of vehicles and pedestrians alike. Pedestrians crossing or crossing pedestrians must adhere to these signals and, when possible, use marked crosswalks to ensure their safety further.

In light of these challenges, the Recovery Law Center promotes pedestrian safety. As personal injury attorneys specializing in protecting individuals, we know how harmful pedestrian accidents can be. If you’re dealing with issues like speed limit violations, obstacles from parked cars, or seeking compensation for injuries from pedestrian accidents, our legal knowledge is here to protect you. Schedule a consultation with us to fight for a full and fair outcome for you in your pedestrian accident case.

Glenn T. Honda

For over 29 years, attorney Glenn Honda has helped people injured in accidents throughout Hawaii get the best outcome for their case, whether it’s maximizing their settlement, or balancing costs and risks vs. putting the whole experience behind them. As the founding attorney of the Recovery Law Center, he is passionate about helping his clients with their physical, emotional and financial recovery. Mr. Honda will fight to get you coverage for your medical bills, lost wages, damaged property and other costs related to your accident.

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