Despite a drop in overall driving, pedestrian accidents are still on the rise. Every year, thousands of people die in pedestrian accidents, and despite recent advancements in safety technology, that number is actively increasing.

Why are pedestrian accidents becoming more frequent? And what steps can you take to protect yourself?

Why Are Pedestrian Accidents on the Rise?

There are several plausible explanations for why pedestrian accidents may be on the rise, and it’s possible that all of them are in play in one form or another.

For starters, many cities throughout the United States are making efforts to become more walkable, encouraging more pedestrian traffic. Walking is healthier and better for the environment, and it leads to a better quality of life, but it also has the unfortunate downside of increasing the opportunities for pedestrian accidents.

Smartphones and mobile devices are also potentially to blame. By now, most of us are aware of the dangers of texting and driving, yet millions of drivers still drive negligently, checking their phones instead of paying attention to the crosswalk in front of them.

Of course, smartphones are also to blame in pedestrian hands; Oftentimes, pedestrians are so busy walking and texting that they walk into traffic without realizing it.

Some experts also blame the increased number of SUVs and other large vehicles on the increases in pedestrian deaths. SUVs present two problems in this scenario; they have more mass, so they have more force and impact, and they also sit up higher than other vehicles, making it harder to see certain pedestrians.

How to Protect Yourself

So how can you protect yourself from being the victim of a pedestrian accident?

Know how to respond. First, you should know how to respond to a pedestrian accident in progress. It’s important to remain calm and get to safety as quickly as possible; It’s also important to call for help as soon as possible, contacting emergency services so they can get to the scene promptly. After the accident, you’ll also want to make plans to talk to a personal injury lawyer about the accident and potential compensation.

Pay attention to crossing signals. Always pay attention to crossing signals, even if you feel like you are familiar with the patterns. Don’t cross an intersection without the official go ahead, even if it doesn’t look like any cars are on their way. Obeying the law is one of the best ways to avoid potential accidents.

Always look both ways. Even if you have the right of way, look both ways before crossing the street. Just because it’s illegal for a car to enter the intersection doesn’t mean all drivers will follow this rule exactly.

Stay aware of your surroundings. Similarly, it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings. How many cars are there? How are they traveling? Do you notice any of the drivers that seem distracted?

Walk intently and predictably. While walking around the city, try to walk with intent and behave as predictably as possible. Many pedestrian accidents unfold because drivers anticipated different movement from a pedestrian; the pedestrian zigzagged or chose a different direction at the last moment, ultimately giving the driver too little time to react. Keep your eyes in front of you, walk briskly, and make it clear where you’re headed.

Stick to sidewalks and crosswalks. Sidewalks and crosswalks are there for a reason: to keep you safe. While it may be tempting to save some time by crossing the street somewhere else, it’s much better to stick to territory where you’re protected.

Avoid walking and texting. People have a tendency to underestimate the dangers of walking and texting. When you get a text from your best friend, you may have an impulsive urge to read it right away, so you’re usually better off waiting until you are stopped. If you’re paying attention to your mobile device, you’re not paying attention to the road in front of you – and you’re certainly not paying attention to other drivers on the road.

Stay sober. Finally, consider staying sober as much as possible. We all recognize intoxicated driving as a major root cause of accidents, but we’re less likely to recognize intoxicated walking. Alcohol and other drugs can impair both your reaction time and your judgment, ultimately increasing your risk of putting yourself in a dangerous situation.

You can never reduce your chances of being in a pedestrian accident to zero, apart from avoiding being a pedestrian entirely. As long as you’re around drivers, there’s a chance someone’s negligence may cost you your life or seriously injure you. But you can drastically improve your safety – and maximize your chances of winning compensation if you are involved in an accident.