Snow and ice put pedestrians at greater risk of being struck by a vehicle — and the injuries sustained can be fatal. As of 2018, 16.9% of all traffic crash fatalities were pedestrians, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Most of these accidents (which numbered 4,351) occurred at intersections, mid-block crossings, or driveway entrances. And, even more revealing, the majority of traffic accidents in general occur between October and January, no doubt because of the effects of winter weather. Why is this so?
Why Pedestrians are at Increased Risk During the Winter
Slippery roads and wet conditions make it far more difficult for a driver to stop. Depending on how slick the driving surface is and how fast the driver is going, their vehicle may skid or spin if they try to hit the brakes too fast. There can also be visibility problems for both you (the pedestrian) and the driver — your peripheral vision may be limited by hoods or winter hats, and drivers may have trouble seeing in the presence of frost, snow, or fog.
Crosswalks are one of the more dangerous areas for pedestrians in the winter months. You may not be able to move as quickly as you normally would because of the presence of snow or ice, making it very easy for a driver to miscalculate quickly you are moving, leading to a collision.
Sidewalks or Streets
Winter sidewalks and streets are also far more dangerous for pedestrians too. Snow and ice can accumulate on sidewalks to the point that it is almost impossible to walk safely. That, combined with limited visibility, can put you at risk for being struck by a vehicle — especially if the driver is distracted. Add to that the increased difficulty involved with stopping and it becomes very apparent how dangerous it is for you to be walking near cars and trucks in wintry weather.
Ideally, you should stay clear of streets and roadways when there is ice or snow on the ground. However, even staying on the sidewalk will not eliminate the possibility of being in a pedestrian-vehicle accident. For example, if drivers encounter ice and are driving carelessly, they can easily lose control of their vehicle and strike you — especially if they are nervous about the weather or become momentarily distracted. Even experienced drivers run the risk of losing control when traveling too fast or braking too hard.
As a pedestrian, you may also have a hard time responding to impending danger when sidewalks and parking lots are slippery. Even if you have high traction footwear, it can still be difficult to quickly maneuver out of danger’s way.
Regulations for Drivers and Pedestrians
Pennsylvania is one of the states that have driving laws that specifically apply in the winter months. For example, not only are drivers supposed to keep the windshield and rear window of their vehicle clear, but they are not supposed to drive with a buildup of snow and ice on the top of their car, either. Any time a driver’s windshield wipers are engaged or when there is limited visibility, they are supposed to have their headlights turned on.
You face a greater risk of being struck by a vehicle during the winter months when snow and ice are on the ground. A combination of factors come into play, including limited visibility for drivers and pedestrians, difficulties for pedestrians like you to move or change direction quickly, and the potential for cars and trucks to slide or lose control. Issues with visibility also increase the chances for you to be injured by a vehicle, and property owners who do not keep their sidewalks clear enough may force you to have to walk in the gutter or on the road.
Contact Sacchetta & Baldino Trial Lawyers
If you or someone you love was injured as a pedestrian in a winter accident, you may be entitled to compensation. The lawyers at Sacchetta & Baldino specialize in personal injury cases and can help you decide what your next step should be.
Contact us today to speak with one of our attorneys about your personal injury case. Whether you were struck by a distracted driver or were hit when a vehicle lost control, you need advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer to get the maximum compensation you deserve under the law.