Determining who gets blamed when cars hit pedestrians

A new study examines the circumstances behind who is found at fault when cars hit pedestrians in an urban area.

Results showed that the environment where the crash took place – especially the types of roads and the amount of access to marked crosswalks – played a key role in whether the pedestrian or the driver was blamed for the collision.

In the study, done in Columbus, pedestrians were more likely to be blamed when they were crossing roads with a high volume of cars traveling at faster speeds, and where crosswalks were few and far between.

In areas of the city – such as downtown – where there were more marked intersections with pedestrian crossings, drivers were more likely to be found at fault.

“Our findings suggest that while the tendency is to blame individuals, the built environment where the crash occurs plays an important role,” said , professor of geography at Ohio State.

“There needs to be more attention to road design and the built environment that contributes to crashes.”

The study was published recently in the , a government effort focused on reducing crash-related fatalities and injuries in the city.

But this study shows the importance of a Safe System Approach to designing roadways to minimize the effects of human errors and allow pedestrians, as well as cars, to move safely through the city.

“We don’t have to design the streets the way we do. We can make fundamental design choices that could prioritize safety over the speed of traffic,” Miller said.

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