With fatal pedestrian car accidents at record highs in Michigan, everyone has a role to play in ensuring pedestrian safety. Drivers must be alert for people on foot, obey the speed limit, eliminate distractions, drive sober and pay attention. People who walk should generally try to cross the street at crosswalks when possible and be extra careful in October, between 6pm-7pm and on Sundays and Fridays.
The need for improved pedestrian safety in Michigan is seen in the ever-increasing numbers of people traveling by foot who have been killed in motor vehicle crashes nationwide.
Pedestrian deaths are at a 10-year record high. In Michigan in 2021, 183 pedestrians lost their lives in car crashes which is 37.5% more than the number of people killed by cars while on foot in 2012.
In the U.S. in 2020, 6,516 people on foot died in auto accidents which is a 46% spike over the number of pedestrians who were killed in 2011.
To bring attention to this public safety crisis, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has designated October as “National Pedestrian Safety Month.” October was chosen because the month is historically the most dangerous for car accidents involving those traveling by foot.
Pedestrians are always our most vulnerable on our roadways. It does not take much effort to drastically improve safety for people traveling by foot to help save lives. National Pedestrian Safety Month is a time when we can recommit ourselves to making this goal a reality.
To learn about a pedestrian’s legal rights after being injured in a car accident, please check out our blog post, “Car Accidents With Pedestrians: How the New Michigan No-Fault Law Affects Them.”
Pedestrian safety awareness in October
October has been the most dangerous month for pedestrians in Michigan for 8 of the last 9 years. In 2021 and 2019-2013, it was the month with the most car crashes involving people traveling on foot. In 2020, January was the month with the most auto accidents involving people walking.
Pedestrian safety awareness for Michigan
There is good news and bad news about pedestrian safety trends in Michigan. The good news is that in 2021 in Michigan crashes involving pedestrians and pedestrian injuries were the lowest in 10 years. The bad news is more pedestrians died in crashes in 2021 than in any one year in the last 10 years.
To learn more about the risks about the dangers of pedestrians, check out our blog post on pedestrian accident statistics.
Pedestrian accident statistics in the U.S.
In 2020 in the U.S., there were 6,516 pedestrians killed in car accidents, which made 2020 the most deadly year for pedestrians in the U.S. in the 10 years since 2011. However, the number of pedestrians injured in auto accidents in 2020 dropped 28% to 54,769 from 75,650 in 2019.
Pedestrian safety tips for drivers
- Be alert and watch for people walking
- Try to make eye contact with pedestrians
- Be extra vigilant at night and in bad weather
- Look behind you when backing up
- Slow down in high pedestrian traffic areas
- Proceed carefully through crosswalks
- Do not speed
- Adjust your speed for road conditions
- Be able to stop quickly and safely if necessary
- No texting while driving
- No distracted driving
- No driving while intoxicated
- No drowsy or fatigued driving
- Obey all traffic signs/signals
How drivers can improve pedestrian safety in crosswalks in Michigan
Michigan has a number of important laws that are meant to protect and improve pedestrian safety. Drivers must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians who are in the crosswalk. Pedestrians who have a “walk” signal have the right-of-way. If the signal changes to “don’t walk” as the person is crossing, he or she may proceed to “a sidewalk or safety island.” Do not pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk.
Here are the crosswalk rules:
- Generally, drivers must “yield the right-of-way . . . to pedestrians . . . lawfully within the intersection or an adjacent crosswalk at the time the signal is exhibited.” (MCL 257.612(1)(a), (c)(ii) and (d))
- If a pedestrian has a “walk” signal, then the pedestrian “may proceed across the highway in the direction of the signal and shall be given the right of way by the drivers of all vehicles.” (MCL 257.613(2)(a))
- If a person “has partially completed crossing” the street when the “walk” signal changes to a “don’t walk” signal, the person “shall proceed to a sidewalk or safety island while the don’t walk interval of the signal is showing.” (MCL 257.613(2)(b))
- Stop far enough back from a crosswalk so that other drivers can see if and when people are crossing.
- Do not pass cars, trucks, motorcycles that have stopped at a crosswalk because they may have stopped to allow a person to cross the street
Safety tips for people traveling by foot
Here are some Michigan pedestrian safety tips for those who are traveling by foot which they can follow to keep themselves safe:
- Cross at crosswalks – For the last 10 years straight (2012-2021), “crossing not at an intersection” has been the most deadly thing pedestrians could do, accounting for 24% to 40% of all pedestrian fatalities caused by motor vehicle crashes in a given year.
- Be careful between 6pm and 7pm – In Michigan in 2021 (and from 2017-2020), 6:00pm and 6:59pm is the time period with the most pedestrian-involved automobile crashes.
- Be careful on Sundays and Fridays – Sunday was the deadliest for pedestrians in Michigan in 2021, but for 6 of the 9 years prior, it was Friday.
- Walk on the sidewalk where possible – Where sidewalks are provided, the law prohibits a pedestrian from walking “upon the main traveled portion of the highway.” (MCL 257.655(1))
- Walk facing the traffic if you must walk in the street – If there are no sidewalks and a pedestrian must walk in the road, he or she must “when practicable, walk on the left side of the highway facing traffic which passes nearest.” (MCL 257.655(1))
Were you hit by a car or truck while walking as a pedestrian? Michigan Auto Law can help
If you or a loved one were hit by a car while you were walking as a pedestrian, you can call an experienced injury attorney toll free anytime 24/7 at (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation. One of our experienced pedestrian accident attorneys will answer your questions about your legal rights as a pedestrian who was hit by a car to pain and suffering compensation, economic damages, auto No-Fault insurance PIP benefits, and settlements in cases like yours. There is absolutely no cost or obligation. You can also get help by visiting our contact page or chat feature on our website.
(Source: Michigan Traffic Crash Facts, Fact Sheets, Pedestrians, 2012-2021; NHTSA, Traffic Safety Facts, “Pedestrians,” 2020 Data (published May 2022))