Many of us have experienced the flash of fear that comes with walking in a crosswalk, just nearly missed by a speeding car that seems to come out of nowhere. Sadly, pedestrian-auto accidents are common and can result in broken bones, traumatic brain injury, and in extreme cases, death. A recent accident involving a speeding car hitting and severely injuring a pedestrian using a Warwick RI crosswalk highlights the need for better marking of crosswalks on busy roads.
Pedestrian Safety in High Traffic Centers
In many New England town centers, old narrow roads predate today’s high traffic volume. Both pedestrians and vehicles are trying to get where they are going, often in a hurry, in a small shared space. Accidents can happen when shoppers get in and out of their cars and walk to businesses that line a busy street. When lack of space prevents expanding parking or road widths, officials need to find creative ways to make crosswalks more visible.
Severe Personal Injuries From Crosswalk Accident
John Lacki, 64, walked into a clearly marked crosswalk at a busy intersection on West Shore Road in Conimicut Village, Warwick, RI. Although Lacki looked both ways and thought he had a safe path, a speeding car violently hit him and broke his legs. Lacki was lucky to survive but his personal injuries required two leg surgeries and extensive rehabilitation. As auto accident lawyers, we regularly represent pedestrians who, like Lacki, were hit and injured in crosswalks despite following traffic laws.
According to a local news report, West Shore Road is stated-owned. Residents and town officials noted this dangerous intersection for years but have been unable to convince the state to take action to combat speeding traffic. Some safety measures may help slow traffic. For example, Wakefield RI installed a flag system on its busy main street where pedestrians take orange flags from bins on either side of the crosswalk, and wave them at drivers before crossing. Johnson and Wales University installed broad speed bumps on a busy road that students cross to get to classes. Local residents in Warwick suggest installing cameras to record drivers’ license plates if they fail to stop for a crosswalk.
What Can You Do to Improve Pedestrian Safety?
Whether you are a driver or pedestrian in RI, you should understand pedestrian laws. Pedestrians must follow traffic control signals. When no traffic signals are in place, a pedestrian has the right of way in a crosswalk. All cars in the pedestrian’s lane – or the opposite lane if the pedestrian is approaching closely – must slow down or stop to yield to a pedestrian. R.I.G.L. § 31-18-3. When a pedestrian is crossing outside of the crosswalk cars have the right of way. In all situations, drivers must exercise “due care” to avoid colliding with pedestrians and bicyclists. And worth noting, where a sidewalk is available, pedestrians may not walk in the road except to cross.