Harrisburg pedestrian deaths hint at national trend

On the morning of October 31, 2012, a 16-year-old girl was struck and killed by a large vehicle in the intersection of South 13th and Sycamore in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The fatal accident occurred shortly before 9:00 a.m. as parents walked their children to nearby Foose Elementary School.

Initial news reports indicated that the driver had fled the scene, but he has since been identified and has reportedly been cooperating with the authorities. Investigators are working to determine whether the driver knew he had struck someone when he left the scene, or if he believed he had hit the curb. Harrisburg officials are also looking into the time permitted for pedestrians to cross the street at that intersection and others around the city, Fox News reported, and may accelerate their work on the project because of the crash.

The Halloween accident was not the only recent pedestrian fatality in Harrisburg. In March, a 64-year-old man suffered fatal injuries when he was struck by a minivan as he crossed the street on the 1000 block of Cameron Street. The Harrisburg deaths hint at a disturbing trend on a national scale: Pedestrian deaths due to vehicle accidents are on the rise again after five years of steady decline, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, with about 75 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurring in urban areas.

Safety tips for pedestrians

Some observers speculate that the distracted driving epidemic may be contributing to the uptick in pedestrian accidents. To help stay safe when walking near roads, pedestrians should follow a few basic precautions:

  • Don't rely on drivers to see you. Even if you have the right of way, don't assume that drivers will see you and stop. Make eye contact with drivers before stepping into the street.
  • Obey all traffic laws. Cross where it is legal to do so, and use crosswalks whenever possible. Most pedestrian accidents occur at non-intersections.
  • Be predictable. Avoid darting suddenly into the street or entering the street from behind obstacles such as trees or parked cars, which can make it harder for drivers to see you. Remember that you are often much less visible to drivers than you may expect, particularly in low light conditions.
  • Walk against the flow of traffic if you must walk in the street. Use the sidewalk if at all possible, but if you must walk in the street it is generally safer to walk against the flow of traffic rather than with it.

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a vehicle accident, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries, medical bills, lost income and other expenses resulting from the crash. For more information, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in your area.