Pedestrian Safety Tips

The danger of traveling by foot in the Chicago Metropolitan area is a safety concern that the Pedestrian Accident Lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. have become all too familiar with. While we represent injured victims following the occurrence of an injury or fatality, we would much prefer see accidents prevented. Perhaps the best pieces of advice we can give to pedestrians is (1) don’t rely on others to act lawfully or reasonably; and (2) have the information necessary to best protect yourself.

Regardless of who has the right-of-way, the safest practice for pedestrians is to use caution and care whenever crossing a roadway, as opposed to assuming that a motorist will stop, even when they are required to do so by law. While the outcome of a pedestrian injury claim brought against a negligent motorist generally favors the victim, the same is not true when considering the potential outcome solely from an injury perspective. Even though pedestrian accidents account for a relatively small portion of all traffic-related incidents, those that do occur nearly always result in some form of injury. According to Illinois Department of Transportation crash data, pedestrians are more than 9x more likely to sustain non-fatal injuries, and more than 18X more likely to be killed in a crash than are occupants in motor vehicles. Given the high risk of severe injury or fatality in pedestrian accidents, emphasis should be placed on accident avoidance techniques as an aforethought, as opposed to liability and compensation as an afterthought.

It is helpful to know where, when, as well as why pedestrian fatalities most commonly occur. The table below outlines just a few specific factors associated with fatal pedestrian accidents in the U.S., based upon 2013 NHTSA traffic safety data. Keep this information in mind whenever traveling by foot.



Geographic Area

  • Urban 73%
  • Rural 27%

Pedestrian Location

  • Non-intersection 69%
  • Intersections 20%
  • Other* 10%

Light Conditions

  • Dark 72%
  • Daylight 25%
  • Dawn 2%
  • Dusk 2%

Pedestrian Impairment

  • BAC .01-.07: 4%
  • BAC .08+: 36%

*refers to parking lanes/zones, bicycle lanes, shoulders/roadsides, sidewalks, medians/crossing islands, driveway accesses, shared-use paths/trails, non-trafficway areas, and other

Often time, pedestrians feel as if they are safer when walking in areas where there are several other persons on foot, when in reality the exact opposite is true. As indicated in the table, pedestrians are at greatest risk in urban areas, and as population density increases so does the risk of injury. On average, more than three-quarters of all crashes involving pedestrians in Illinois occurred in Cook County, making it the state’s most dangerous county for pedestrians. Because areas with more foot traffic tend to have more motor vehicle traffic, pedestrians should be particularly cautious when traveling in urban areas.

Pedestrians should also be aware that Illinois varies in comparison to nationwide crash data with regard to light conditions present at the time of accident. Specifically, Illinois has a higher rate of pedestrian incidents during daylight hours. According to 2013 crash data, 31% of pedestrian fatalities and 62% of pedestrian injuries occurred during daylight hours, while 66% of pedestrian fatalities and 33% of pedestrian injuries occurred during darkness. Furthermore, when delineating by injury severity in non-fatal pedestrian accidents, more than half (56%) of incapacitating injuries (defined as those “which prevents the injured person from walking, driving, or normally continuing the activities he/she was capable of performing before the injury occurred”) occurred during daylight, compared to 38% during darkness.

Whether walking at day or night, pedestrians can decrease the risk of harm by ensuring that motorists are aware of their presence. Whenever possible, make eye contact with an oncoming driver. Also, pedestrians can increase their visibility to other motorists by wearing bright clothing during the day and reflective clothing at night. Use a flashlight at nighttime—there are a number of free apps available to smartphone users that allow mobile devices to be used as handheld lights.

In addition to alcohol (or drug) impairment, pedestrians should also be mindful of the hazards of using a mobile device or listening to music while walking. In short, anything that impacts a person’s visual, audible, perceptual, or mental alertness can increase the risk of accident or injury. The safest practice when traveling by foot, is to avoid distractions, remain alert, and maintain awareness of your surroundings at all times.

While there are many things that pedestrians can do to protect themselves, the Chicago Injury Lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. know that even the most cautious pedestrian can still fall victim to harm caused by negligence of another. When a pedestrian accident does occur, it

While there are many things that pedestrians can do to protect themselves from harm, the Chicago Injury Lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. know that even the most cautious pedestrian is not invisible to injury or fatality caused by the negligence of another. When a pedestrian accident does occur, it is important to protect your legal rights to financial compensation. Give us a call at 773-516-4100, or send us a message online to discuss your matter today.

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