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Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

Posted by Siamak Vaziri | Dec 20, 2022 | 0 Comments

A car striking a pedestrian can result in extremely traumatic injuries. However, these types of accidents are extremely common. It is important to understand why these types of accidents occur so the steps can be taken to prevent them. Understanding the causes of pedestrian accidents also helps identify when a devastating collision is caused by a driver's negligence or carelessness.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident in Los Angeles, it is important that you seek the counsel and guidance of an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer who will stay on top of the official investigation and help ensure that your legal rights and protected and that you receive maximum compensation for your losses.

pedestrian accidents


Here are the nine most common causes of pedestrian accidents:

1. Distracted Driving

Drivers who are texting or talking on cell phones tend to put pedestrians as well as operators of other vehicles in grave danger. A distraction while driving could encompass a variety of actions from looking at a cell phone or texting to in-car entertainment or adjusting the GPS. Any action that takes the driver's eyes off the road, hands off the wheel or attention away from driving, is essentially a distraction.  Learn more facts about distracted driving here.

California has several laws in place that make distracted driving illegal. There are two laws that prohibit drivers from using handheld phones while driving. A third law makes it illegal for drivers under 18 to use handheld phones as well as hands-free devices while driving. Finally, it is also illegal to text while driving in California. Violating each of these laws is considered a “primary offense,” which means you can be pulled over just for violating one of these distracted driving laws.

2. Speeding

Speed is one of the biggest factors that contribute to traffic accidents in California. For pedestrians in particular, speed can be lethal. For example, when a driver operates at 45 or 50 mph in a school zone and strikes the pedestrian who is crossing the road, the injuries suffered in such an accident can be lethal. Pedestrians may be thrown on the roadway or may suffer severe blunt force trauma when they hit the vehicle or the windshield. Speeding not only increases the risk of a pedestrian accident, but it also increases the risk of serious or catastrophic injury.

3. Failing to Yield

This is one of the major causes of pedestrian accidents. California Vehicle Code Section 21950 (a) requires motorists to stop and yield the right of way to pedestrians who are walking in marked or unmarked crosswalks. Almost all pedestrian accidents caused by failure to yield may be attributed to the driver. When a driver arrives at a crosswalk, the law requires them to slow down or come to a full stop at the crosswalk and move only when the pedestrian has crossed the roadway and it is safe to do so.

4. Disobeying Traffic Signs or Signals 

When drivers fail to stop at red lights or stop signs, they end up causing devastating pedestrian accidents. However, accidents also occur when drivers stop for a light or a stop sign, but proceed into the intersection because they don't see pedestrians in the crosswalk. Therefore, they fail to yield to the pedestrians.

5. Failing To Signal

It is hard for pedestrians to know when to protect themselves if they have no idea a car is turning at an intersection. Studies have shown that more than half of drivers in the U.S. don't use their turn signals when they are supposed to use them. If a driver fails to use a turn signal and a pedestrian steps into the crosswalk, the driver would be considered at fault for the collision, not the pedestrian.

6. Disregarding Weather or Traffic Conditions

Under California law, drivers have a duty to travel at a speed that is safe regardless of posted speed limits. Drivers must take into condition factors such as traffic, weather and roadway conditions to determine what speed is “safe.” Disregarding these factors and traveling at an unsafe speed could shift liability for a pedestrian accident to the driver. For example, if a car is traveling at the posted speed limit in heavy rain when visibility is low at an intersection, which causes the pedestrian accident, both the driver and pedestrian could share liability for a pedestrian accident under California's comparative negligence laws.

7. Driving Under the Influence

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's statistics, about 13% of fatal pedestrian accidents in the U.S. involved a driver with a blood alcohol concentration or BAC of at least 0.08%, a level that is illegal for adults in California. It must be noted that even one alcoholic beverage could impact a driver's ability to perceive and react to dangers on the roadway or be able to avoid a collision. Alcohol or drug impairment leads to lack of judgment, exaggerated behaviors, lack of coordination, reduced alertness and inability to detect pedestrians on the roadway.

8. Vehicles Making Left Turns

A number of pedestrian accidents at crosswalks occur when drivers make left turns. This is because drivers fail to see pedestrians when they begin to make the left turns since they are looking in a different direction. Drivers, however, have a duty of care to pedestrians. They are required to pay attention and exercise reasonable care under the law.

9. Pedestrian Wearing Dark Clothing at Night

Statistics consistently show that the number of pedestrians is higher during the night when it is dark outside. Pedestrians who plan to walk in the dark would be well-advised to wear light-colored clothing or wear neon patches or clothing, or carry lights to alert motorists.


All these nine causes of pedestrian accidents have one common thread: They are all related to a driver's failure to carry out their duty of care. Duty of care is a term that refers to a driver's legal obligation to exercise reasonable care. When a driver fails to do so, he or she is said to be negligent. If a pedestrian is injured or killed because of a driver's negligence, he or she could be held legally liable for the pedestrian's injuries and losses and pay compensation.


Pedestrians have both rights and responsibilities under California law. When pedestrians walk while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, or while talking on a cellphone or while texting, they are at a higher risk of getting struck by a vehicle because they are not paying attention to the roadway. Pedestrians must be extra vigilant on the roadway simply because they are in danger of suffering life-changing injuries, even though a negligent driver may be at fault.


Safety tips for Drivers

  • Watch out for pedestrians everywhere at all times
  • Use extra care when visibility is poor such as in bad weather
  • Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or approaching a crosswalk
  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and stop well before you reach the crosswalk to give other vehicles an opportunity to see the crossing pedestrians and stop as well
  • Never pass vehicles stopped at the crosswalk
  • Never drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Stick to the speed limit that is posted and slow down if there are traffic, roadway or weather conditions
  • Be very careful when you back up anywhere

Safety tips for pedestrians

  • Follow the rules of the road

  • Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available

  • Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections.

  • Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways or backing up in parking lots

  • Avoid alcohol or drugs while walking

  • Avoid texting or talking on the phone while you are walking


If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a negligent driver, you may be able to seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost income, cost of hospitalization, rehabilitative therapy, permanent injuries, pain and suffering and emotional distress.

In order to be successful with your claim, there are a number of important steps to take. Make sure you file a police report and obtain a copy for your records. Secure the driver's insurance information, license plate number, and contact information. Also, obtain as much evidence as possible from the scene including photos, surveillance videos, eyewitness statements, etc. It is also crucial to get the medical attention and care you need in a timely manner. Get an experienced Los Angeles pedestrian accident lawyer on your side so you can put yourself on the path to receiving maximum compensation for your losses.

To schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles simply fill out our contact form today!

About the Author

Siamak Vaziri

Attorney Siamak Vaziri’s mission is to help make his clients whole by obtaining maximum physical, emotional, and financial recovery. Mr. Vaziri’s clients' needs come first, evidenced by his 98% success rate, more than $1 Billion in client settlements and verdicts, as well as 100+ 5-star reviews. Mr. Vaziri invests every resource to nurture his client and partner relationships and does so with integrity and a relentless work ethic.


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