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How car-pedestrian accidents happen, and why

Government studies have generally been careful not to assign the majority of fault to either drivers or pedestrians when it comes to who is to blame for pedestrian accidents, and for good reason. Walking across the street while looking down at your smartphone and listening to music on a noise-reduction headset can be just as dangerous as driving while sending or reading a text; being a drunk pedestrian is a contribution to car-pedestrian accidents in the same way that being a drunk driver is.

Car accidents involving pedestrians are an unavoidable fact of life in Tennessee. The state government keeps annual statistics broken down by county on how many of these accidents occur, and seldom if ever for any county does that figure read, “0.” Understanding how car-pedestrian accidents happen, and why, is important for anyone behind the wheel or crossing a street, as it can make the difference between a safe crossing and becoming a statistic.

There have been multiple government studies on the subject of how pedestrian injuries happen. Their findings have been largely consistent. Some of the common ways that vehicles end up striking pedestrians include:

Alcohol consumption, by the driver, the pedestrian or both: Statistics suggest that four of every 10 pedestrian accidents involve a pedestrian who had consumed alcohol.

Distractions: Cellphones and smartphones can be wonderful productivity and communication tools, but they are also world-class distractions for drivers and pedestrians alike.

Poor visibility: Most pedestrian accidents happen at night. Many others occur in poor weather conditions.

Population density: The higher the population of a county or urban area, the more vehicle-pedestrian accidents there are. 

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