Grimes & Fertitta, P.C.

Impact speed makes a difference in pedestrian crashes

The speed at which a driver is traveling can dictate how severe a person's injuries are when they're involved in a pedestrian accident. It makes sense to say that the faster a vehicle goes, the greater the chance of injuries or fatalities upon impact. What might not be as clear is how fast a vehicle can go and still give a person a chance at survival.

There are many factors that affect the outcome of a pedestrian crash. The person's weight, age and overall health play a role in the ability to survive. The vehicle's speed plays a role, as does the angle of impact.

Who suffers most in pedestrian crashes?

Across the board, it is the elderly who are at the highest risk of injury when hit by a vehicle at any speed. A 70-year-old pedestrian, for example, has the same risk of severe injury as a 30-year-old pedestrian who is hit by a vehicle traveling 9.3 mph faster. The impact it takes to severely injure or kill an elderly person is much lower than for others, as found by a study that did not consider children under the age of 15.

When you look at younger children, the risks are almost always going to be higher. This is due to their small stature and weight. They are more likely to be run over or crushed than adults, as well.

How fast do vehicles have to travel to cause injuries?

Any vehicle traveling at any speed can cause an injury, but the average risk of severe injury reaches 10 percent when a vehicle is traveling at least 16 mph. Their risk of severe injury increases to 25 percent when the vehicle reaches 23 mph. At 31 mph, there is a 50-percent chance of injury. Seventy-five percent of people will suffer severe injuries, on average, when hit at 39 mph. At 46 mph, 90 percent of people will suffer severe injuries.

For death, the risk of death is 10 percent at 23 mph. It's 25 percent at 32 mph. By the time a vehicle is traveling at 58 mph, the risk of death reaches 90 percent. This is without considering age. When taking age into consideration, older people are more likely to suffer than younger adults.

What you should take away from this information is that drivers are a danger to pedestrians, even at slower speeds. Pedestrians must be cautious to avoid roadways, especially when vehicles are traveling quickly.

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