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What pedestrians need to know to stay safe on Washington roads

On Behalf of | Mar 12, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Washington’s temperate climate means that people can be a bit more casual about their transportation choices. Without the harsh winters experienced in places like the East Coast and the Northern Midwest, Washington often offers a comfortable climate for those who want to bike or walk.

Pedestrians get exercise in addition to reducing how much it costs for them to travel around their communities. Unfortunately, the trade-off is the increased risk of sustaining injury in a crash. Pedestrian crashes are among the worst collisions that occur, as the human body never wins a fight with a motor vehicle. Thankfully, there is one very important fact about pedestrian crashes that could help those who regularly walk, jog or run in Washington protect themselves on the roads. Those who are unwilling to take this fact for granted can better protect themselves from the risk of being plowed into by a motor vehicle.

Drivers don’t always see pedestrians

After a tragic pedestrian crash, the person in the motor vehicle who caused the wreck will probably try to explain why they aren’t really at fault for the crash. One of the most common excuses that people give for hitting a pedestrian is that they didn’t see the person in the road ahead of them.

Psychological research actually supports that claim. The phenomenon that researchers call inattentional blindness is a result of how demanding driving a vehicle is on the human brain. A person’s brain will have to sort through huge amounts of visual information in traffic, and the priority is typically on anything that seems safety critical.

Bigger vehicles or an immovable obstacle ahead would draw someone’s immediate attention. Pedestrians, cyclists and even motorcycles are small enough that the brain dismisses them as not being a threat. Unless drivers actively look for and think about pedestrians and smaller vehicles, they can cause a crash even though they looked right at the pedestrian before moving through an intersection.

How does this information help pedestrians?

Knowing that a driver will have a questionable excuse after a crash is likely not very comforting to those who are at risk of being hurt by motor vehicles in traffic. However, understanding why drivers hit pedestrians can actually help someone keep themselves safe in traffic.

Pedestrians that treat every driver as though they haven’t noticed them are less likely to step out in front of a vehicle that won’t be able to stop in time. Individuals may also want to review their personal car insurance, as certain kinds of coverage can help supplement the compensation a pedestrian will get after a crash.

Learning more about the causes of pedestrian collisions can benefit those who try to stay safe on public roads. This understanding can also be useful in the event of a collision, as it will allow victims to ask informed questions when they are seeking legal guidance.