Pedestrian fatalities in Ohio: Stats, state law and remedies

Pedestrian accidents continue to rise throughout the country.

Pedestrian fatalities continue to pose a problem throughout the country. The most recent data available from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reports almost 6,000 pedestrian fatalities in the first half of 2016.

This set 2016 up to mark the third year in a row that there was an increase in pedestrian fatalities.

What does Ohio state law say about pedestrians? There are many situations where the pedestrian has the right of way. Ohio state law provides that pedestrians on the sidewalk have the right of way. A vehicle is required to yield to pedestrians on the sidewalk. This can apply when a car is pulling into a driveway that crosses a sidewalk. This means the driver must allow the pedestrian to proceed uninterrupted.

This right also extends to pedestrians that are using a designated crosswalk. This is true even when there are not traffic lights that clearly provide the right-of-way to the pedestrian. When no traffic light is present, vehicles are required to yield to pedestrians as soon as the pedestrian enters the crosswalk.

What is done to reduce pedestrian fatalities? One of the key ways to decrease the risk of pedestrian accidents is to design roadways and walkways to maximize separation. Pedestrian overpasses and underpasses can reduce the risk of issues on busy streets. Increased crossing time can make it more likely that pedestrians can cross safely.

Pedestrians can also benefit from increased visibility with better street lighting and flashing beacons on pedestrian crossing signs.

States have also been called to focus on enforcement. A push for increased enforcement efforts of the pedestrian laws noted above as well as increased efforts focused on poor driving could further protect pedestrians. Ohio has made efforts through the Ohio Traffic Safety Office to provide funds to implement such changes. The Ohio Department of Transportation also has a planning program that encourages public education to address this issue.

What about those who are injured in a pedestrian accident? The rate of pedestrian fatalities is increasing at what the GHSA states is an "alarming and unprecedented rate." It grew by 25 percent from 2010 to 2015. There are many different causes that may contribute to this trend, but the GHSA states the "growing use of smart phones by all road users" is a likely factor.

Those who are the victim of a pedestrian accident may be able to hold the responsible party accountable through a personal injury lawsuit. An attorney can provide guidance in this process, gathering evidence to support your claim and working to better ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled.