Pedestrians and drivers should use caution

Published 7:00 am Thursday, January 25, 2018

While Pearl River County’s rural nature lends itself to a culture of drivers, at times we may encounter pedestrians using local roadways.

And while thankfully it’s rare, there have been instances of vehicles striking people walking along local streets.

If the accident occurs along a road with a slower speed limit, the pedestrian suffers only minor or moderate injuries, if they are lucky. If the victim was struck while walking on the side of the interstate or major highway, they may not be so fortunate.

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According to the Mississippi Department of Transportation, children 19 and younger account for most of the nation’s pedestrian related deaths, and teenagers are at twice the risk of being hit by a vehicle than younger children.

Seven years ago, pedestrian deaths made up 14 percent of fatalities along our nation’s roads. In that same year, more than 70 percent of those fatalities occurred in cities rather than rural areas.

Drivers should keep in mind that the faster they are traveling, the risk of death increases during a pedestrian versus vehicle accident. If a vehicle was traveling at 40 miles per hour at the time of impact, the pedestrian has an 85 percent chance of dying, whereas if the vehicle was traveling at 20 miles per hour, that percentage drops to 5 percent. Since most of us are motorists, we should keep an eye out for those who walk to their destinations and slow down if we come upon a pedestrian.

Pedestrians can take precautions of their own to ensure they aren’t struck by a vehicle. First, use sidewalks where available. But since sidewalks are rare in this county, be sure to avoid walking in the middle of the road or a traffic lane, and walk against the path of traffic so you can see a vehicle coming at you. That way, if you see a vehicle swerving uncontrollably, you might just have a chance to move out of the way.