When it comes to injury accidents, few are as devastating as collisions between vehicles and pedestrians. The sheer velocity of a traveling car coupled with its significant weight can cause serious injuries or death in an instant. Collisions between cars and pedestrians are unfortunately not uncommon in Wisconsin, and although the statistics are not updated, the numbers from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation indicate that in 2001, one pedestrian was killed every five hours and twelve minutes in the state.

When you think about it, there is no reason for these accidents to ever occur. Everyone is aware that pedestrians have the right of way in any crosswalk and drivers should be constantly vigilant behind the wheel, looking out for people on sidewalks, crosswalks, and other places where pedestrians are common. Speed is often a factor in these collisions as well, and when drivers fail to observe the posted speed limit, accidents are bound to happen.

The study by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation highlights two specific groups that have a higher likelihood of being seriously injured or killed as pedestrians: the elderly and children. Older pedestrians showed the highest fatality rate as pedestrians on Wisconsin roadways, often because their age prohibits them from moving quickly when crossing the street, and other contributing age-related factors like diminished eyesight and hearing problems, that may make it difficult for them to see oncoming traffic before it is too late.

Children, on the other hand, are also a high-risk group. Ages 5-9 showed the highest rate of injury due to their “limited understanding of traffic laws and little sense of danger” according to the Wisconsindot.gov website. In addition, children often cannot judge the speed or distance of an oncoming vehicle, do not know that vehicles cannot stop as fast as pedestrians, and have a full third less peripheral vision than adults do. When all of these elements are factored in, it is not difficult to see why children and vehicles are a deadly mix.

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of every driver on Wisconsin roadways to watch for children and elderly people on the road and do everything possible to avoid collisions. If a driver fails to stop in time and a pedestrian is killed on accident, they may face criminal prosecution (if the person was intoxicated at the time of the crash or was speeding) or may face civil actions like a personal injury lawsuit. These actions can have a serious impact on the driver and the family of the victim alike. Families of those hurt or killed in an accident may contact an attorney to fight for compensation including funeral costs, pain and suffering, lost wages or loss of companionship, and other monetary costs associated with the tragic accident.

It is part of a social contract we share with each other: we will operate our vehicles responsibly and will do all that we can to prevent injury to others. If we fail to do so, especially around pedestrians, serious injuries can occur and everyone’s life will be affected. So watch out for pedestrians, and let’s make sure to take care of one another on the road.