Who’s to Blame if a Vehicle Hits a Pedestrian

Author: Ohio State University
Published: 2024/02/13 – Updated: 2024/02/14
Post type: Data/statistical analysis – Peer Reviewed: Yeah
Content: SummaryMajor – Related Posts

Synopsis: Importance of a safe system approach when designing roads to minimize the effects of human error and allow pedestrians and cars to move safely through cities. The findings suggest that while the tendency is to blame individuals, the built environment where the accident occurs plays an important role. In neighborhoods where there is less pedestrian infrastructure, pedestrians tend to be blamed more for accidents.

Main summary

A new study examines the circumstances behind who is at fault when cars hit pedestrians in an urban area. The results showed that the environment where the accident occurred, especially the types of roads and the amount of access to marked crosswalks, played a key role in blaming the pedestrian or driver for the collision.

In the study, conducted in Columbus, pedestrians were more likely to be blamed when crossing streets with a high volume of cars traveling at higher speeds and where crosswalks were few and far between.

In areas of the city, such as downtown, where there were more marked intersections with crosswalks, drivers were more likely to be found guilty.

“Our findings suggest that while the tendency is to blame individuals, the built environment where the accident occurs plays an important role,” said Jonathan Stiles, who led the study as a postdoctoral researcher in geography at Ohio State University.

This was evident in areas of the city where there was an average of a quarter mile between signalized crosswalks.

“In neighborhoods where there is less pedestrian infrastructure, pedestrians tend to be blamed more for accidents,” said co-author Harvey Miller, a geography professor at Ohio State University.

“More attention needs to be paid to road design and the built environment that contributes to accidents.”

The study was recently published in the Transportation and Land Use Magazine.

Miller and Stiles, who is now a visiting assistant professor at Columbia University, analyzed five years of data on pedestrian accidents in Franklin County, Ohio, the home of Columbus.

There were 2,757 pedestrian accidents in the county between 2015 and 2019. In just over half of the accidents (54%), the driver was at fault and in 36%, the pedestrian was at fault. In the remaining accidents no fault was found.

As expected, a pedestrian who was in the middle of a block or in a travel lane (outside of a crosswalk) increased the likelihood of being found guilty.

Aspects of the built environment had a strong impact on who was found guilty. Pedestrians were more likely to be at fault on arterial roads – high-capacity roads that have more traffic and higher speed limits than local roads.

The presence of bus stops in the area also increased the odds that the pedestrian would be found guilty, likely because most bus stops drop off pedestrians on busy arterials with fewer crosswalks, the researchers said, which It means that many people may be crossing between blocks.

To better understand how the built environment affected who was to blame, Miller and Stiles conducted case studies of several Columbus neighborhoods.

They found that downtown Columbus, which has pedestrian-friendly street design and infrastructure, with automatic pedestrian traffic controls at most intersections, was the area where drivers were most likely to be found at fault for accidents. . Here, drivers were at fault in 3 out of 4 crashes, and pedestrians were at fault only 17% of the time.

The situation was very different in Hilltop and South Linden, both low-income neighborhoods in the city. Unlike downtown, signalized crosswalks were much less common in these neighborhoods, making it more difficult for pedestrians to cross busy streets safely.

At Hilltop, pedestrians and drivers were equally likely to be found at fault (46% of accidents). Investigators described Broad Street, a five-lane arterial road, as “a daunting road to cross with or without signal at Hilltop, and distances to signalized crossing areas can be several blocks.”

On one portion of Sullivant Avenue in Hilltop, there was an average of 1,300 feet between signalized intersections — a quarter mile.

The situation for pedestrians was even more difficult in South Linden, a predominantly black neighborhood northwest of downtown, where pedestrians were to blame for 55% of accidents.

In this case, the average distance between signalized pedestrian crossings was 429 meters in some places.

Some busy areas were well above this average, including one that lacked a crossing by more than 640 meters, about 0.4 miles. That stretch included a mix of residences, retail businesses, daycares, religious facilities, a library and bus stops.

“This makes it very difficult for pedestrians who may be carrying bags from a store to find a crosswalk to cross the street,” Stiles said.

“This makes it more understandable why pedestrians might try to cross a street between crosswalks.”

It’s also understandable why police officers point to pedestrians as the culprit in official reports when people are hit while trying to cross in the middle of a block, said Miller, director of the Ohio State Center for Urban and Regional Analysis.

“Police officers are concerned about people’s safety, so they try to do the right thing when they find pedestrians are at fault in these situations,” Miller said.

“But what we’re seeing in this research is that the built environment is a key factor. People make errors in judgment, but no one deserves to die or be injured by such errors. And they would be less likely to make these decisions if there was more pedestrian infrastructure. “, said.

One recommendation from the researchers is to redesign accident forms completed by police to include information about the built environment around the accident site, such as the distance to the nearest crosswalk, to give more context about why pedestrians make certain decisions. .

According to researchers, the built environment for pedestrians is not just a problem in Columbus. Many cities have similar problems. And the situation in Columbus is improving thanks to Vision Zero Columbus, a government effort focused on reducing accident-related deaths and injuries in the city.

But this study shows the importance of a Safe System Approach in road design to minimize the effects of human error and allow pedestrians, as well as cars, to move safely through the city.

“We don’t have to design streets the way we do. We can make fundamental design decisions that could prioritize safety over traffic speed,” Miller said.


This peer-reviewed article related to our Accident and Disability section was selected for publication by the editors of Disabled World because of its likely interest to our readers in the disability community. Although content may have been edited for style, clarity, or length, the article “Who is to blame if a vehicle hits a pedestrian?” was originally written by The Ohio State University and published by Disabled-World.com on 02/13/2024 (Updated: 02/14/2024). If you require further information or clarification, you may contact The Ohio State University at osu.edu. Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith.

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Permanent link: Who is to blame if a vehicle hits a pedestrian?

Cite this page (APA): Ohio State University. (2024, February 13). Who is to blame if a vehicle hits a pedestrian? Disabled world. Retrieved February 17, 2024 from www.disabled-world.com/disability/accidents/safe-system.php

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