In the ideal world pedestrians and motorists would live in harmony but this simply isn’t going to happen. for a pedestrian being hit by a motor vehicle can clearly have tragic consequences and the statistics continue to be a serious cause for concern. In 2011 over 450 pedestrians were killed and 5,500 were seriously injured in road traffic incidents in the UK. The courts have long since acknowledged that because of the disproportionate consequences between the driver of a motor vehicle and that of a pedestrian they have demanded a high standard of care from motorists when being judged in a claim for damages by the injured pedestrian.
However there is also a fair argument by motorists that many pedestrians fail to take reasonable care when crossing the road; indeed a high number of pedestrians routinely attempt to walk across the road at a pedestrian crossing when the red man is illuminated and are foolish, even reckless, by hoping that the motorist will be able to stop in time. There are also those pedestrians who will walk out between parked vehicles and risk crossing a road only a few metres from a designated crossing. For all these reasons the courts have a difficult balancing act in apportioning blame, between the motorist who is in charge of a potentially lethal weapon, and the actions of the pedestrians when assessing damages in a personal injury claim.
Motorists should be mindful of their speed, particularly in built up areas where there are pedestrians, and drive at a speed that is appropriate for the conditions rather than up to the maximum limit allowed for that road. This is even more relevant as we get older because we are less able to judge the speed of an approaching vehicle, our reaction times increase and when driving our ‘thinking’ and ‘braking’ distances become longer. With that in mind motorists should also take into account the high number of elderly pedestrians, and children, who are less likely to be aware of the dangers.
If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a road traffic incident of this kind it is likely that collecting evidence will not be a priority and that’s understandable. However, if you are able to do so, take the names, addresses and telephone numbers of any witnesses to the accident and take photographs of the accident scene if possible. The likelihood is that there will be a police presence at a pedestrian and motor vehicle accident but if there isn’t then you should also contact the Police as soon as possible and report the incident.
It might sound so obvious that it isn’t worth mentioning but in order to minimise the risk of injury a few simple ‘steps’ could potentially save your life. For motorists please don’t assume that pedestrians are always going to see or hear you approaching. Slow down, be mindful of your speed, and don’t allow yourself to become distracted. For pedestrians please use the designated crossings, don’t step out until the green man is lit and still look both ways because not every motorist is going to stop! Finally, stepping out between parked vehicles to save yourself the short walk to the crossing really isn’t worth risking your life.
Harris Fowler has a team of specialist personal injury solicitors who can offer advice to anyone who has been the victim of a road traffic accident. Free and confidential legal advice is available on 0800 213 214 or visit our website harrisfowler.co.uk
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