Not matter the time of year, pedestrians are at far greater risk of injury or death in a car accident. However, winter is particularly hazardous. Between reduced daylight hours, year-end holidays, and slushy, icy, or snowy roads, pedestrians must take more measures to protect themselves in the colder months.
As the seasons change, so do the risks on the road. Learn common risks to pedestrians during the winter, how to stay safe while walking, and how Great West Injury Law can help pedestrians injured in a car accident.
Risks to Pedestrians During Winter
Knowing the risks and unique challenges you may face while walking during winter means you can find ways to protect yourself.
- Longer Nights
After the autumnal equinox in September, daylight hours reduce significantly. The sun rises later and sets earlier, and setting the clock back for daylight savings time in the fall means one less hour of daylight. This reduces visibility for drivers and pedestrians, especially during peak hour traffic between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.
- Winter Weather Conditions
Some areas of Utah, such as Salt Lake City, see heavy snowfall during the winter. However, snow impairs driver visibility, and low temperatures can lead to frost or ice on streets and sidewalks. Drivers may have difficulty seeing pedestrians due to falling snow, and cars can skid on wet or slippery roads, leading to crashes.
- Driver Distractions
Not paying attention to the road while driving is dangerous at any time of year. Texting while driving, using the navigation system, or talking to passengers can take a driver’s attention off the road, resulting in a collision with a pedestrian.
Many drivers don’t adhere to the speed limit, especially on empty roads. Utah saw 8,096 speed-related accidents in 2021. Traveling at higher speeds means the car needs more distance to stop. A driver who is speeding may be unable to stop a safe distance away from a pedestrian or crosswalk, particularly if the roads are slippery. If you are traveling at 35 mph on a dry street, you typically need 136 feet to stop safely. This number doubles on snowy roads, and you may need up to 600 feet to come to a complete stop on icy roads.
- Ignoring Road Signs and Signals
According to a 2020 phone survey by the American Automobile Association (AAA), about 26% of drivers run red lights that they just missed. Similarly, some will ignore stop signs or other restrictions on the road meant for everyone’s safety. However, ignoring these signs or signals often means that the driver can’t swerve or stop in time if they see a pedestrian.
- Driving Under the Influence
Many people enjoy alcoholic beverages during winter holiday parties and gatherings. Of all federal holidays in 2021, Utah saw the second-most alcohol-related crashes on Thanksgiving and the fourth-most alcohol-related crashes on Christmas. Since alcohol and drugs impair attention and reaction time, someone driving under the influence may overlook a pedestrian or be unable to react quickly enough to avoid a collision.
- Keeping Safe as a Pedestrian in Winter
Pedestrians cannot control drivers, the weather, or the amount of daylight outside. However, they can take steps to make themselves more visible and protect themselves from collisions.
- Assume Drivers Can’t See You
Pedestrians are far smaller than cars. Even if you take all appropriate safety precautions, walk as though drivers can’t see you. If you assume drivers will overlook you, you’ll be prepared to react to a reckless driver.
- Wear Bright Colors or Reflective Clothes
Wearing bright colors can help make you more visible to drivers, especially in the dark. Similarly, wearing a reflective vest or something that generates light (such as a light-up wristband or headlamp) can help drivers see you in low-light conditions. Avoid wearing white if it’s snowing, as you will be harder to see.
- Walk on the Sidewalk
Cars are less likely to accidentally drive onto a raised sidewalk, even in bad weather conditions. Staying on the sidewalk provides you extra protection from reckless drivers or cars skidding on ice.
- Cross at Crosswalks
Crosswalks are more clearly marked and have reflective signs, making them easier to see in dark or snowy conditions. Many crosswalks are also located near better-lit areas and traffic signals, like stop lights or stop signs. If you jaywalk, a driver won’t expect you to be crossing the street and may be unable to stop in time.
- Stay Alert
Keep your headphones off so you can hear any cars approaching. Additionally, don’t text or read when walking, as this can cause you to step into the street.
Injured by a Negligent Driver? Contact Great West Injury Law.
A car-pedestrian collision can have lifelong consequences for the pedestrian, including chronic pain, disability, and job loss. If you took all the precautions to keep yourself safe, you may feel that the inattentive or reckless driver should be responsible for your medical bills.
Our Great West Injury Law attorneys agree that the driver should be held accountable. Our law firm is highly knowledgeable about pedestrian law in Utah and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.