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Speed Plays Major Role in Outcome of Pedestrian Accidents

Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook

California residents usually feel safer walking around a residential neighborhood than beside a freeway. That's because the chances of dying after being hit by a car going 25 miles per hour are very low compared to the chances of being killed by a car going 60 miles per hour. Though higher speeds cause more severe accidents, pedestrians over the age of 70 are at a significant risk even in low-speed areas, however.

A researcher from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety used pedestrian accident data to put together a chart showing the risk of death compared to impact speed. He determined that the faster a car is traveling when it hits a pedestrian, the greater the chances are that the pedestrian will be killed in the accident. The relationship between car speed and death risk exists for pedestrians in all age groups.

The AAA researcher used data from pedestrians in all age groups and then compared that data to pedestrians aged 70 and aged 30. He found that older pedestrians are at a much greater risk of being killed in a car accident. For example, a 30-year-old who is struck by a car going 25 miles per hour has a 7 percent chance of death while a 70-year-old has a 23 percent chance of death.

The surviving family members of a pedestrian who has died after being hit by a car may face adverse financial circumstances in addition to their grief. Funeral and burial costs have to be met, and in many cases the decedent was a major contributor to the household's finances. In cases where the pedestrian had the right of way, an attorney can often help in filing a wrongful death lawsuit that would seek appropriate compensation from the negligent driver.