From the moment they take their first steps, children are overwhelmingly likely to be hurt as pedestrians. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every five children under the age of 15 killed in traffic crashes in 2015 was a pedestrian, placing children at risk of crash injuries even when they are not inside a vehicle. Adults can help protect their young ones by knowing where and when these accidents usually occur—and what to do after a child has been struck by a car.
How Children Are Injured in Pedestrian Accidents
Every day, kids and teenagers walk to and from school, walk to their friends’ houses, and even walk dogs or deliver papers in their first jobs. A child’s small frame not only makes him or her more difficult for a driver to see, it also makes him or her likely to suffer serious injuries in a crash. Pedestrian accident injuries in children are often fatal, and even when children survive the incident, they may suffer permanent physical or cognitive impairments.
The most common ways children are hit by cars include:
- Backover accidents. Thousands of children every year are struck by a driver backing out of a driveway or parking space. Reversing accidents may happen because the driver’s mirrors were not angled properly, the child suddenly darted into the path of the car, or the driver simply failed to look before backing up. In many of these accidents, children are hit by a relative, family friend, or neighbor.
- Distractions. Drivers and pedestrians both need to stay alert to the world around them, but many are distracted by their cellphones or electronic devices. Children who are watching videos on a cellphone may cross the road before it is safe, while drivers can strike a child in the two seconds it takes to send a text.
- Drunk driving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that as many as 15% of fatal pedestrian crashes involve drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at 0.08 or higher.
- School zone accidents. School zones and neighborhoods near them are prime locations for child pedestrian accidents, particularly just before and after school hours. Drivers have struck children in school zones because they failed to obey a lower speed limit, did not watch or wait for crossing guards, or did not come to a complete stop at intersections.
- Afternoon and evening crashes. Peak times for pedestrian accidents include the hours between 12:00 pm and 6:00 pm. These hours are not just dangerous for young children. Middle school kids walking home from after-school activities and teenagers returning home for dinner after spending time with friends are also at risk.
- Rural roads. Children who are not old enough to drive may not be aware of the rules of the road, including how to judge a car’s speed and distance. This places them at risk of being struck in areas with no sidewalks, especially if they cross the road at a location other than an intersection.
Drivers Have a Special Duty of Care to Child Pedestrians
Tennessee law places a special duty of care on drivers to avoid pedestrian accidents, as well as a duty to watch for children in the road. State law requires drivers to yield to pedestrians crossing the street and take every action to avoid hitting a person who is crossing the street illegally. Drivers must also remain stopped until a pedestrian in their path has completely crossed the road. Finally, Tennessee rules of the road requires all drivers to exercise proper precaution if they see a child on or near the road.
If your child was struck by a car, we can help you hold the at-fault driver accountable and get your family rightful compensation for your suffering. Call the car accident attorneys at GriffithLaw today or fill out the short contact form on this page to get your questions answered in your free injury consultation.