Pedestrians are at the highest risk of injury when the sun goes down. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data from 2020 shows that 77% of pedestrian deaths occurred in the dark. However, even though walking outside at night can be dangerous for more reasons than one, sometimes you might not have another choice.

Taking appropriate precautions during nighttime walks can protect you from being struck by a car. Learn the steps to take to protect yourself and how Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers can help in the event of a pedestrian accident.

The Dangers of Walking at Night

No matter the time of day, pedestrians are always at greater risk than drivers in car accidents, since they don’t have any protection against a high-speed impact. Nighttime is the most dangerous, however, because pedestrians are less visible and risk blending in with their surroundings.

Even new vehicle safety systems don’t effectively protect pedestrians. 2022 research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems did not detect pedestrians in the dark and would not slow down to prevent a collision in time.

Pedestrian accidents made up 17% of all traffic deaths in 2020 and resulted in 54,769 injuries. Victims of a pedestrian accident may incur significant medical bills, lost wages, and suffer lifelong psychological and physical effects from an accident.

Protecting Yourself When Walking at Night

Since pedestrian crashes can cause serious injury or prove fatal, protecting yourself on a nighttime walk is critical. Implement the following tips to help you avoid an accident:

  • Assume Drivers Can’t See You: Even if you take all appropriate precautions, being out at night means walking in low light conditions. Always assume drivers can’t see you and act accordingly. For example, wait to make sure drivers actually stop and attempt to make eye contact with them before beginning to cross an intersection.
  • Wear Light or Reflective Clothes: Dark colored clothing, like black, brown, or gray, causes you to blend in with your nighttime surroundings, even if a car’s headlights shine directly on you. Wearing light- or neon-colored clothing makes you more visible in the dark and car headlights. If you frequently walk after dark, consider purchasing high-visibility gear like a reflective vest or hat. These items reflect light from street lamps and vehicle headlights, increasing your visibility to drivers.
  • Stay Alert: Even if you’ve walked the same route in the daytime, the night can bring unanticipated hazards, including drunk or tired drivers. Additionally, you may feel tired or be under the influence yourself. In 2020, approximately 39% of pedestrians who died between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. were legally intoxicated. Even while making the smart choice not to drive, intoxicated pedestrians may be more likely to walk into the street or cross against the light. When walking at night, put your headphones and phone away, keep an eye on your surroundings, and stay sober.
  • Walk in Well-Lit Areas: Well-lit streets make it easier for you to see your surroundings and for drivers to see you. If possible, try to walk on paths with working street lamps or through brightly lit business areas.
  • Cross at Crosswalks: Louisiana law grants pedestrians right-of-way only if they’re crossing the street at a marked crosswalk or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. Crosswalks are more likely to have pedestrian-friendly protections, like stop signs, that make it safer for you to cross. Always cross at crosswalks or intersections, as drivers are more apt to expect pedestrians in these locations.
  • Use Sidewalks Where Possible: Sidewalks are designed explicitly for pedestrians, providing you with extra protection from vehicles. If a road has an available sidewalk, walk on the sidewalk or designated footpath instead of a bike lane, median, or side of the road.
  • Walk Towards Oncoming Traffic: Not every road has a sidewalk available. If you need to walk on a road with no sidewalk, walk on the side of the road, heading in the direction of oncoming traffic. If you walk in the same direction as traffic, cars will approach you from behind, giving you less time to react to an oncoming vehicle.

Who is Responsible in a Pedestrian Accident?

Under Louisiana law, drivers must exercise due care for avoiding crashes with pedestrians. Therefore, a driver who hits you at night could be liable for the accident, despite the low-light conditions.

However, insurance companies may be reluctant to compensate you for your injuries and claim that the accident is your fault if they think you contributed to the crash by crossing the road without regard to traffic. You can work with the New Orleans personal injury lawyers at Dudley DeBosier to help you stand up for your pedestrian rights and seek fair compensation for your injuries.

Get Help from Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers

Pedestrian traffic accidents can have lifelong, devastating consequences. Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers will fight for you if you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a pedestrian accident. We can help you understand your legal options and move forward with your case.

Call us today or send us a message online to schedule a free consultation regarding your case.

This content has been reviewed by Chad Lederman, Director of Legal Operations at our New Orleans office.

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