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Which Pedestrians Are Most at Risk for an Accident?

a go signal for pedestrian to walk

The pedestrians most at risk are adults aged 65 years and older. They accounted for about 17% of the U.S pedestrian deaths in 2021. Other pedestrian groups like children 14 below & impaired people are also high-risk, especially in urban areas.

When you’re traveling on a roadway, either as a motorist or pedestrian, it’s important to be aware of all other motorists and pedestrians that are sharing the road with you. Accidents that involve pedestrians often cause severe injuries. There are certain types of pedestrians that are at greater risk for accidents than others.

Below, we describe a few types of pedestrians who are at higher risk of being involved in accidents. If you are a driver, you should watch for these types of pedestrians and be especially careful when driving near them. We will also go over other factors that contribute to pedestrian-involved motor accidents and some tips for how everyone can work together to prevent these accidents from happening.

Pedestrians Who Are Most at Risk for an Accident

When looking at traffic accident reports, three groups of pedestrians are statistically more at risk of accidents than other groups. These groups are more at risk because they walk slowly, are more likely to make sudden movements toward traffic, and aren’t necessarily thinking about safety and traffic laws when they are walking.


Children are small and therefore harder to see, giving them a higher risk of being involved in an accident with a vehicle. They are more likely to make sudden movements toward traffic or make unanticipated movements. Children also don’t have as much of an understanding of traffic laws and the danger of walking near cars, so they are more likely to take risks or do something unsafe.

Motorists should look out for all pedestrians while driving, especially children. Drivers should be especially careful when driving through school zones, near parks, or in residential areas.

School zones typically have special speed limits to follow when children will be outside. In other areas that might have children, it is up to the driver to be careful and look out for these at-risk pedestrians.

Older People

Another group of at-risk pedestrians is the elderly. Older people usually walk slower than other pedestrians, meaning they are in crosswalks and roadways for longer periods than younger people. They also may have difficulties stepping onto curbs, which means it takes them longer to move from the road to the sidewalk.

Elderly people are also more likely to walk for transportation than other age demographics because they may not be able to drive or don’t feel comfortable driving anymore.

Some neighborhoods with a high prevalence of older people will have signs that say “Elderly Crossing” or “Senior Citizen Area” to indicate to cars that they should slow down and be looking for older pedestrians. Drivers should always be aware of older pedestrians, even without signs to indicate their presence.

Drivers should make sure that they completely stop at all stop signs and occupied crosswalks. They should make sure that all pedestrians have exited the roadway before continuing. Taking some extra time to slow down and follow these practices can help protect older pedestrians.

Impaired People

One last group of at-risk pedestrians are impaired pedestrians. These are people that have chosen to walk instead of drive after drinking alcohol or using other substances that impair their movements and judgment.

While it is good that impaired pedestrians are walking rather than driving, they are still at risk of causing an accident. Impaired pedestrians are somewhat like child pedestrians. They can make sudden and unexpected movements toward roadways and traffic. They will also be less careful about traffic laws and being safe.

Drivers should be on the lookout for impaired pedestrians at all times, but especially at times and in places with many bars or parties. Generally, there are more impaired pedestrians walking near bars at night and on the weekends. People driving in college towns or areas with a lot of bars should be extra careful and alert.

Other Contributing Factors

a group of teens walking while using their phones

While certain types of pedestrians are more at risk than others for being in an accident, there are other contributing factors to pedestrian-involved accidents. Even the most careful pedestrian can be involved in a motor accident if there are other contributing factors to the situation.


Distractions are a huge contributing factor to accidents, even those that don’t involve pedestrians. With the prevalence of smartphones, many people are distracted while traveling, even by just looking at a map. When either a pedestrian or driver is distracted, there is a greater risk of an accident.

Pedestrians and drivers alike should limit distractions while driving and walking. Everyone traveling on the road should be aware of their surroundings and ready to react to any situation.

Urban Location

In urban areas, there are more people and cars due to population density. Since urban areas are also more walkable, there are more pedestrians than in rural areas, and they will be more likely to jaywalk since roads in cities are usually narrow. The increased number of people sharing roadways naturally leads to more accidents.

All pedestrians and drivers should be vigilant about traffic laws and being aware of others on the road when in urban areas. Pedestrians should remember that traffic laws apply to them, like crossing the street in designated crosswalks.

Time of Day

Lastly, the time of day can be a significant contributing factor to accidents involving pedestrians. During the day, pedestrians are easier to see and drivers are usually more alert. At night, pedestrians are harder to see and are more likely to be impaired, especially on the weekend. People driving at night might also be tired and less aware of their surroundings.

If you are traveling at night as a pedestrian or motorist, be sure to follow all traffic laws and be aware of others using roadways. Cars should have their headlights on to avoid an accident and pedestrians should try to make themselves visible.

What Can Pedestrians and Motorists do to Prevent Accidents?

At the end of the day, everyone that uses roadways either as a pedestrian or driver should be doing everything in their power to prevent accidents. Since we use roadways all the time with no accidents, it can be easy to forget about the importance of vigilance and safety precautions. All it takes is one instant of distraction or mistake to cause a life-changing accident.

The following are a few tips that everyone can follow to keep roads safer for everyone.

Limit Distractions

Distracted driving and walking are one of the leading causes of accidents today. People use their phones all the time, including when driving and walking. This is extremely distracting. Even if you think you are looking up often enough, if your phone is out then you are not paying enough attention to the road.

All drivers and pedestrians need to put their phones down when using the road. Distracted pedestrians are more likely to step into traffic at the wrong time and distracted drivers are more likely to not notice a pedestrian in the road.

If you are using your phone to help with directions while driving or as a pedestrian, try to keep your phone close to eye level so that you can still see in front of you in your peripheral vision.

Follow Traffic Laws

It may seem obvious, but following traffic laws is a great way to reduce accidents. It can seem harmless to drive above the speed limit, roll through stop signs, or not slow down for crosswalks. However, following these traffic laws protects everyone on the road.

Speed limits that seem slow are likely in place to protect children or elderly pedestrians. Stop signs give you a chance to look at your surroundings to identify pedestrians and other motorists. Slowing down for crosswalks gives you a better chance of stopping for pedestrians entering the roadway or giving enough time for elderly pedestrians to exit the crosswalk.

Traffic laws were created for a reason. Following them can help reduce the number of accidents that involve pedestrians.

Make Yourself Seen

One last tip that everyone should follow is to make yourself seen, especially at night or when it’s raining. Pedestrians walking at night should consider wearing reflective clothing. They should also be aware that they are harder to see, so they should be extra careful when entering crosswalks.

Drivers should also do their part to be seen by pedestrians. Make sure to use your headlights when it starts getting dark, when it’s raining, or if there is fog. Even if you don’t need your headlights to see in front of you, they can help your car be seen by pedestrians. If a pedestrian can see your car coming from a distance because of your headlights, they can have a better understanding of when it is safe to cross the road.

These small steps to make oneself more visible can help others be more aware when using roadways and can prevent accidents.

Contact Us Today

a handshake after an attorney meeting for pedestrian accident

If you were involved in an accident that involved a pedestrian, call the Law Offices of Sadaka Associates today at 1-800-810-3457. We can guide you through the legal process related to this situation.



Principal & Founder
This article was written by Mark Sadaka, a seasoned trial lawyer in nationally significant cases. He fearlessly champions clients impacted by fatal or severe injuries caused by others or corporations. Renowned for his expertise in complex litigation, he's featured in books, sought after by media for interviews, and a highly sought speaker. Notably, he exclusively represents individuals facing life-changing injuries or substantial financial losses.

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