Crossing the road is a dangerous undertaking in Maryland. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, almost 6,000 pedestrian deaths were reported in the United States in 2017. Pedestrian accidents in Maryland are becoming more prevalent.
It takes very little contact for a car or truck to inflict massive damage on the human body. In Maryland, 41 pedestrian deaths occurred from January 2017 to June 2017. That’s a rate of 0.68 per 100,000 people. About 100 pedestrians die every year in our state. Maryland ranks as the 26th most dangerous state for pedestrians in the country, according to the GHSA.
For every pedestrian death, dozens more are injured. More walkers are becoming involved in accidents. Annually, Maryland drivers were involved in almost 2,800 pedestrian crashes. Almost 88 percent of these accidents resulted in an injury or fatality, states the Maryland Pedestrian Safety Program.
The safety of pedestrians affects us all because unless you are permanently bedridden or incarcerated for life, at some point in your life you will be a pedestrian, sharing streets and roads with vehicles that greatly outweigh you and move at great speed. You trust drivers to obey the laws and to understand that they are responsible in many ways for the safety of every pedestrian, young or old, disabled or not. Pedestrian safety is, accordingly, a high priority for society.
Pedestrians must also exercise basic prudence and care; not every pedestrian accident could have been avoided by the vehicle driver. Every case in which a pedestrian is injured or killed essentially comes down to determining whose behavior caused the accident. Both drivers and pedestrians need to be more cautious in conditions that make it harder to see, to react, and to stop. If you’ve been hit by a car and want to file a claim for injuries, contact the Law Offices of Randolph Rice at (410) 694-7291 for immediate legal help.
You should contact a Maryland pedestrian accident lawyer as soon as possible if you have been hurt in a crosswalk accident or another incident crossing the road.
Car Accidents Involving Pedestrians are Common
Pedestrian accidents, and the injuries and/or deaths that result, are far more common than most people realize. In 2013, 4,735 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States, an average of one every 2 hours. In Maryland, pedestrian fatalities accounted for nearly a quarter of all traffic fatalities in the state in 2013.
Police reports on fatal accidents in the previous year (2008) indicated that the pedestrian was at fault in 70 percent` of them. The question, of course, is how much that last statistic is affected by the fact that the pedestrians died and were unable to tell their version of the accident.
Tragically, wheelchair users suffer some of the highest death rates in pedestrian accidents in Maryland. An investigation by Georgetown University found wheelchair users are a third more likely to die than non-wheelchair users in auto/pedestrian crashes. More than half of those fatalities occur at intersections.
The study found male users of wheelchairs are five times more likely than women to die in pedestrian crashes, according to the study in BMJ Open.
Some professions are at particular risk of auto/pedestrian accidents. They include road workers and utility workers, police officers, landscapers, garbage and recycling collectors, joggers, children and elderly people who take longer to cross the road. Cities like Baltimore are pedestrian-unfriendly with a lack of crosswalks and sidewalks in places. However, most American cities were built around the car.
What is the single biggest cause of crashes?
Smartphone use by drivers and pedestrians was highlighted in a recent study by Zendrive as the single biggest cause of accidents involving people on foot. The study looked at cellphone use by 3.1 million drivers over 570 million trips. Distracted driving and walking appear to have taken over from intoxication as the top cause of pedestrian accidents. However, alcohol and drugs remain another significant cause.
A 2017 study in California found 35 percent of pedestrian deaths involved the use of alcohol and drugs by either a driver or a pedestrian. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures suggest as many as 48 percent of crashes that led to pedestrian deaths were caused by intoxication.
Officials from the National Safety Council believe increased distractions (distracted walking) may be to blame for the recent spike in pedestrian deaths. More drivers are looking at their phones and are likely to miss pedestrians crossing the road in front of them. More people on foot are also becoming distracted by electronic devices.
Where do most pedestrian accidents occur?
Most pedestrian accidents and fatalities occur in urban areas. In 2015, the Governors Highway Safety Association highlighted some of the most densely populated states in the country as the worst places for pedestrian deaths. The table is topped by California, Texas, Florida, and New York, which account for about 43 percent of all pedestrian deaths. A majority of pedestrian accidents occur on urban highways when pedestrians are crossing the road away from crosswalks.
Pedestrian Accidents We Handle
Our injury lawyers handle all types of pedestrian injuries and accidents. Most people think pedestrian accidents happen in crosswalks, but we handle all injuries incurred by persons on foot while walking, running or standing in these locations:
- Shoulder accidents
- People struck while on the curb
- Sidewalk accidents
- When a person is outside of the right of way
- On the road at the crosswalk
- On the road not at the crosswalk
- Inside parking structures and parking garages
- In a school bus zone
- In the bike lane or bikeway
- Inter-crosswalk marked crosswalk
- At intersections with no crosswalk
- Driveway access
- Shared use path or trails
- Mid Block crosswalks
Pedestrian Accidents in Baltimore Involving Wheelchairs
A wheelchair is defined under Maryland law as a mobility aid belonging to any class on three-or-four wheeled devices that can be used indoors and does not exceed 30 inches in width and 48 inches in length when measured 2 inches above the ground. The device is designed for and used by a disabled person. A wheelchair user is defined as a pedestrian.
Factors Relevant to the Cause of a Pedestrian Accident
Every pedestrian accident case is different in many, many ways. A large number of factors that may come into play in determining the cause of a pedestrian accident means that determining who is liable requires sorting through a mountain of relevant facts.
At a general level, these include at least the following:
- Victim’s characteristics (age, mental status, physical condition, etc.)
- Victim’s obedience to traffic laws, including crossing areas
- Victim’s attentiveness/caution at the time of the accident
- Driver’s characteristics
- Driver’s obedience to traffic laws (speed, possession of a valid license and compliance with any restrictions on it, etc.)
- Driver’s attentiveness/caution at the time of the accident
- The circumstances at the place of the accident
Visibility, in particular, encompasses many separate things. No list could possibly be complete, but common visibility factors include:
- Whether the accident was during the day or at night
- If night, whether there was appreciable moonlight, whether the pedestrian wearing clothes that hampered visibility, whether the vehicle’s lights were on and working properly, etc.
- If day, whether there was sun glare that made it hard for the driver and/or the pedestrian to see
- Whether visibility was hampered by rain, snow, fog, etc.
- Whether visibility was hampered by other objects and structures in the area, like work zone barriers, parked vehicles, etc.
Characteristics of Pedestrian that Affect the Occurrence and Outcome of an Accident
The pedestrian’s age, physical condition, mental status, etc., often come into play in a pedestrian accident. Younger children obviously are less aware and less able to respond to impending danger. The same is often true for pedestrians with developmental disabilities. Older pedestrians may, but certainly do not always, have the same problems.
Physical conditions that can affect the pedestrian’s ability to respond include problems with vision, hearing, and mobility, which is why pedestrians with vision, hearing, and mobility impairments are given the right of way under Maryland’s traffic laws.
Alcohol is a major factor in many pedestrian accidents. Either the driver or the pedestrian may be impaired; in the worst case, both are. Of the pedestrians killed in Maryland in 2008, 40 percent were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident. Nationally, in 2009, alcohol was a factor in 48 percent of all pedestrian fatalities.
Who is At-Fault in Pedestrian Accidents?
A large number of people in Baltimore walk as a form of transportation as well as for recreational purposes. Unfortunately, pedestrians are not always as careful as they should be. As a result, a large number of pedestrian accidents occur each year in Maryland.
Many people assume that drivers are always responsible for pedestrian accidents, but in some situations, pedestrians are at fault for the accident. This article will review some of the important details that you should know about situations where a pedestrian is often found responsible for an accident.
How Fault Is Determined in Pedestrian Accidents
There are various ways to establish that a pedestrian was responsible for an accident. Many times, witness testimony is critical. Sometimes if a crash occurred close to a business or municipal area, cameras might have recorded the event. A car might also have a data recorder, which can provide information about how a crash occurred.
Traffic Laws that Apply to Pedestrians in Baltimore
In Maryland, pedestrians are required to follow traffic laws in the same way as motor vehicle drivers. For example, pedestrians must yield to motor vehicles when crossing the road with the exception of crossing the road at designated areas.
When a pedestrian fails to follow traffic law, this is often evidence that the individual is responsible for the accident. As a result, while a pedestrian might disobey the law, this is not an automatic indicator they are responsible for the accident. Instead, deciding responsibility in an accident is a very difficult decision that requires complex analysis.
Maryland has several laws that specifically address the rules of the road when it comes to pedestrians. These laws impose various obligations on both pedestrians and motorists. One fundamental point is that pedestrians, including people using wheelchairs, are subject to the state’s traffic laws.
Pedestrians are given the right of way in some circumstances, generally crosswalks, but must yield the right of way to emergency vehicles. Pedestrians are always entitled to the right of way if they are impaired as to vision, hearing or mobility. Drivers, on the other hand, are generally required to look out for pedestrians. Specifically, drivers must:
- Exercise due care to keep from hitting pedestrians.
- When necessary, use their horn to warn a pedestrian in danger.
- Exercise appropriate caution upon seeing any child or any person who is obviously confused or incapacitated.
Jaywalking and How it Applies to Pedestrian Accidents in Baltimore
Everyone must follow the rules of the road. That means it is against the law for a pedestrian to jaywalk, or be on areas of a highway or road where pedestrian traffic is not allowed. Pedestrians must also obey traffic laws just like drivers.
This does not mean it is legal to hit a jaywalker. Drivers must be attentive. If a speeding or reckless driver hit a jaywalker, he may face a reckless driving or even a manslaughter charge. If the driver was unable to avoid hitting the pedestrian, he or she likely will not face criminal charges. The consequences depend on the circumstances of the case.
Under Maryland law, a driver must exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian. The driver should warn any pedestrian by sounding a horn and exercise proper precautions on noticing any confused or incapacitated pedestrians.
Is It Illegal to Jaywalk?
Jaywalking means violating pedestrian traffic laws, usually by crossing a street illegally. While jaywalking is a low-level offense, it can draw fines in most if not all jurisdictions and pedestrians have been charged with illegally crossing the road in Baltimore.
However, jaywalking is not a legal term. The term “jaywalking” was first coined by automobile interest groups in the 1920s. They sought to put the blame on pedestrians who continued to walk the streets in the way they had for centuries. Some scenarios in which a pedestrian may be fined are outlined by the Montgomery County Police Department.
- The failure to obey a red traffic signal (21-202(l));
- Not obeying a pedestrian control signal;
- Starting to cross the roadway in the direction of a solid “don’t walk” or “upraised hand” signal;
- Failing to cross on a marked crosswalk where a traffic control signal is in operation;
- Crossing a roadway intersection diagonally unless authorized by a traffic control device.
Pedestrians are permitted to cross at places other than crosswalks in some circumstances. When crossing outside a marked or unmarked crosswalk, pedestrians must yield the right-of-way to motorists.
Why is it called “jaywalking”?
The term ‘jaywalking’ originated in Kansas, according to Merriam-Webster. The meaning of the term jaywalker is somewhat different than it was originally used. The word was coined in imitation of a slightly older word, the jay-driver. This phrase referred to a driver of horse-drawn carriages or cars in the early 20th century who drove on the wrong side of the road.
The Kansas City Star appears to have first used the term jaywalker in 1905. An editorial stated: “Much annoyance would be obviated if people when meeting others going in the opposite direction would keep to the right and avoid collisions and being called a ‘jaywalker.”
In the early years of its use, the term referred to pedestrians crossing the street. It was a derogatory term for those who lacked sidewalk etiquette.
How much is the fine for jaywalking in Baltimore?
Under the Maryland code, the fine for jaywalking offenses in Maryland range from $40 to $500. These include:
- Pedestrian failure to yield the right-of-way to an approaching vehicle when not in a crosswalk;
- Unsafely crossing in the path of a vehicle;
- Pedestrians crossing a roadway between adjacent intersections with traffic control;
- The failure of a pedestrian to yield the right of way to a vehicle when unsafely crossing;
- A pedestrian diagonally crossing an intersection without authorization.
The exception to the $40 minimum is violating the rule that a pedestrian facing a steady red traffic signal may not enter the roadway. This offense carries a potential fine of $80 or up to $500.
Right of Way and How it Applies to Car Crashes with Pedestrians in Baltimore
There are situations in which pedestrians have the right of way outside a crosswalk. Pedestrians have the right of way on a sidewalk. When children are getting on or off a school bus, they have the right of way. In these situations, drivers must stop for a school bus when its flashing lights are on and its stop-sign arm is extended. Drivers who violate this rule face a fine of $570 even if nobody is hurt.
Do pedestrians always have the right of way in Baltimore?
Pedestrians do not have the right of way in all situations but they do have the right of way in certain situations in Maryland. These are set out by Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration. They are:
- When a pedestrian is on a crosswalk;
- Under TR§21-502(a)2 a driver must come to a complete stop when a pedestrian is crossing the roadway on a crosswalk. This applies to a marked or an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection;
- Under TR§21-502(c) it is unlawful to pass a vehicle stopped either in a marked or unmarked crosswalk;
- A driver must yield the right-of-way when turning on a green signal or green arrow Vehicles facing a circular green signal, including any vehicle turning left or right, must yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian who is lawfully within an adjacent crosswalk. Pedestrians must comply with all pedestrian control signals. They must obey the “Walk,” “Don’t Walk” and “Wait” signals at crossings.
Do pedestrians have the right of way at a zebra crossing?
A zebra crossing is another phrase for a crosswalk with markings. Generally, pedestrians have the right of way on crosswalks provided they are not crossing when a traffic signal says they should not walk or a pedestrian suddenly leaves a curb or other place of safety and walks or runs into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is not possible for the driver to yield.
What is the sign for a pedestrian crossing?
There are a number of different signs for pedestrian crossings or crosswalks. They are usually yellow with a black figure crossing the road. School crossing signs feature two figures, a larger and a smaller one. Another type of pedestrian crossing sign is a white square with a yield sign, an arrow and the words “Yield here to pedestrians.” In-street crosswalk signs are tall, skinny signs with a figure walking, instructing drivers to yield or stop to the pedestrian.
Do pedestrians have the right of way when the light is green?
If the light facing drivers is green, pedestrians crossing at a marked or unmarked crosswalk should yield because they do not have the right of way. Even though pedestrians do not have the right of way in this circumstance, a driver who deliberately fails to stop for a pedestrian may face criminal sanctions and even a civil lawsuit in some states.
At an intersection in Maryland, a driver must yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian when turning on a green signal or green arrow.
When there are no sidewalks where should pedestrians walk?
A pedestrian must walk on a sidewalk if one is provided in Maryland. If there is no sidewalk, the pedestrian is allowed to walk on the left side of the road.
Are you supposed to walk with traffic or against it?
As a pedestrian, you are supposed to walk against the traffic where there is no sidewalk. Pedestrians must walk on the left of the road. Unlike cyclists, they are not treated in the same way as a vehicle. By walking on the left side of the road, you are more likely to see traffic approaching you and to be able to take evasive action if a car is heading toward you.
Do you run with or against traffic?
There is no federal law stating which side of the road runners must use, but local, county and state legislatures across the country point to running against traffic to see vehicles heading toward you. Maryland law states “If there is no sidewalk, always walk on the side of the road facing traffic.”
The Washington Post reported there is a clear safety advantage of running against traffic. Researchers in Finland considered data from the car and pedestrian accidents from 2006 to 2010, covering about 2,000 miles and more than 250 pedestrian accidents. The researchers found pedestrians walking or running against traffic have on average a 77 percent lower risk of being hit and injured by a car.
What is the correct side of the road to run on?
The correct side of the road to run on in Maryland is the left side facing oncoming traffic. If there is a sidewalk available, both runners and walkers should use it. They should not be on the road if a sidewalk has been provided.
Which side of the sidewalk should you walk on?
There are no rules or laws in Maryland related to which side of the sidewalk you should walk on. Some pedestrians follow the etiquette of drivers or escalator users and walk on the right to allow faster runners or cyclists, if they are on a multi-use path, to pass on the left.
Do pedestrians have the right of way when they are jaywalking?
Pedestrians do not have the right of way when they are jaywalking. In the United States, jaywalking is defined as violating pedestrian traffic laws, usually by crossing a street illegally. If you do not have the right of way, a driver who hits and injuries you is unlikely to be found liable in a personal injury lawsuit.
Do you have to stop for a pedestrian at a crosswalk?
Drivers of cars, trucks, motorcycles and other vehicles in Maryland have to stop for a pedestrian who is on a crosswalk when the walker is on the side of the road the vehicle is driving or is approaching the motor vehicle’s lane from the other side of the road. Drivers do not have to stop for pedestrians who are on the sidewalk by a crosswalk.
Do you have to stop at a pedestrian crossing?
Drivers must stop at a pedestrian crossing when a walker is on the crossing. They must also stop if a cyclist is crossing the road. A driver does not have to stop at a pedestrian crossing if nobody is on it. An exception is when a crossing has a red light. Recently, the media reported how red lights were fitted at the Matthew Henson Trail which crosses Maryland Route 586 (Veirs Mill Road) at Turkey Branch Parkway in Rockville.
A new signal was fitted which features flashing yellow lights that turn solid red when a cyclist or pedestrian pushes a button. The change came after two deaths prompted lobbying by cyclist groups. Even if no cyclist or walker is on the crossing, a driver must stop when the light is red.
Do pedestrians have the right of way in a parking lot?
Pedestrians do not automatically have the right of way in a parking lot unless they are on sidewalks or crosswalks. Pedestrians should walk along the side of a parking lot, facing traffic.
Who has the right of way in a parking lot?
In parking lots, drivers in a traffic lane have the right of way. Although pedestrians do not usually have the right of way in a parking lot, drivers must follow directional rules and travel at slow speeds. If you are hit by a speeding driver in a parking lot, you may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Contact Our Pedestrian Accident Lawyer in Baltimore
Getting compensation for a pedestrian’s injuries or death can be a very complicated process. If the pedestrian is injured but lives, the case is based on the usual personal injury principles, and recovery depends on establishing that the driver was at fault. If the pedestrian dies, the case is based on both “wrongful death” for the damages that the victim’s relatives suffer, and a “survival” action for the damages that the victim and the victim’s estate suffer.
In either case, recovery takes time and experience handling pedestrian accident cases in Maryland. Get the legal help you need by calling the Baltimore injury attorney team at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice. Randolph has the extensive experience, legal knowledge, and record of success that will maximize the odds of your receiving a fair and adequate recovery award, sufficient to compensate you for all of your economic and non-economic damages. There is no fee until you recover. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. (410) 694-7291