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How Both Drivers and Pedestrians Can Avoid a Car Accident

In today's culture - with fast moving vehicles, distracted drivers, bicycles, Segways, and countless people and distractions on the streets and sidewalks, both car drivers and pedestrians need to be mindful of being safe to avoid a motor vehicle accident. Moreover, pedestrian accidents are some of the most serious since a pedestrian does not have the protection provided by being inside a motor vehicle.

Here are some tips for both pedestrians and drivers that we have learned as Washington, DC injury attorneys handling thousands of personal injury claims. Some are obvious; some are not. Even if we already know them, however, we forget them in the course of a busy day. So, reviewing and remembering them can help you avoid a motor vehicle accident.

For pedestrians:

1. Cross only at a cross walk or intersection and only with a "walk" signal, if there is a traffic signal. Contrary to what many people believe, pedestrians do not always have the right of way. Instead, they only have the right of way if they are in a crosswalk (or other authorized crossing area) AND have a walk signal (if there is a light). If there is no signal, they have the right of way if they have sufficient room to safely cross before oncoming traffic arrives. The most common accidents pedestrians have with cars are when pedestrians cross in the middle of the street (especially coming from between two parked cars).

2. When you are waiting to cross a street, wait on the curb (preferably a few steps back) and never in the street - the curb can often keep a car from entering the sidewalk or alert an inattentive driver. If you're in the road, not only are you more likely to get injured, but you may be found partly responsible for your injuries. This is especially true for drivers with cell phones - they can and so swerve to the edge of their lane while driving due to being distracted.

3. Always wait for the signal to tell you to walk. Remember that EVERY pedestrian who was every hit by a car never saw the car coming. That's why they entered the roadway. We are only humans, we cannot see everything, so wait until the oncoming traffic has a red light for added protection.

4. Likewise, do not rely solely on the traffic signal - people run red lights. So, take a quick look before crossing the street, just in case someone is not paying attention or is trying to beat a yellow light.

5. Do not assume drivers can see you. When you are a pedestrian in poorly lit areas, you can see yourself better than car drivers can. They are a distance away from you, moving fast, and looking through a windshield. Moreover, from a distance a pedestrian blends in with other dark colors (trees, roads, buildings). Also, before assuming a particular car sees you, always make eye contact. Drivers routinely text and otherwise do not pay full time and attention even when their heads are up and they seem to be looking forward.

For drivers:

1. If someone is tailgating you, let them pass, if possible. Even though an accident will be their fault if they follow you too closely, you will bear the brunt of it and could suffer serious personal injuries. The best approach is to let them pass and take yourself out of a potentially dangerous situation.

2. Do not race when your light turns green; instead, wait a second and quickly check both directions to make sure no one is running a red light, including bicyclists and pedestrians.

3. If you are driving slowly or stopped on the side of the road, use your flashers - especially in bad weather, because drivers have a hard time stopping. Also, avoid standing in or near the roadway. Again, with cell phones and the like, people tend to swerve to the edge of their lane (or out of it) frequently.

4. Slow down and use your turn signals. The faster you go, not only are you harder to see and anticipate (by pedestrians and other drivers), but your and their reaction time is shortened. You simply will have less time to brake, swerve or otherwise prevent an accident. Plus, signals make your actions clear, so others can act accordingly. The more that every driver knows what the other drivers are doing, the less likely are car accidents.

5. No texting or doing anything else that takes your attention from the road. This sounds like common sense, but it causes so many accidents. Keep in mind that at 60 mph, you are moving 88 feet each second. At 30 mph, you are moving 44 feet each second. A two second glance means you've driven 88-176 feet without looking where you are going. The remedy is easy - for short rides, leave your cell in the backseat or glove compartment. For longer ones, check when you stop. There are too many tragedies caused by texting and driving - there can be no feeling worse than killing or seriously injuring someone else because you were sending a non-urgent text.