Over the past several years, Utah has seen a significant jump in auto-pedestrian accidents.
More pedestrians suffered serious injuries from accidents in 2021 than in any year in the past decade. 2022 is on pace to surpass last year’s numbers with 20 pedestrian deaths in the first three months of the year alone, according to Advocates, a team of Utah personal injury attorneys.
While pedestrian accidents don’t increase during adverse weather, both drivers and pedestrians should take measures to keep walkers safe.
Since Jan. 1, 2022, the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office reported five auto-pedestrian accidents, all happening in Stansbury Park. Out of those accidents, one was the fault of the pedestrian.
In Tooele City, in the last two years, there have been 12 accidents involving pedestrians, with pedestrians being at fault 50% of the time, according to Cpl. Colbey Bentley, public information officer at the Tooele City Police Department.
“When the driver is at fault, it is most commonly because the driver fails to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk or because of the driver being inattentive due to being distracted,” Bentley said.
Common causes for auto pedestrian accidents include phone use and distracted driving, along with pedestrians assuming drivers will stop for them and not paying attention, according to Bentley.
“Both [drivers and pedestrians] should be paying attention to each other no matter who has the right-of-way,” he said.
As a pedestrian, there are measures that can be taken to avoid getting hit.
Pedestrians should avoid being on their phone, wearing headphones, and being distracted when they cross the street, according to Chief Deputy Brian White at the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office.
“If kids need to use a cell phone, teach them to stop walking and find a safe place to talk,” White advised.
Pedestrians should also be aware of drivers who may be distracted, use crosswalks and traffic signals to cross the road, and wear brightly colored clothing or reflective gear.
“A great rule of thumb for both pedestrians and drivers is to not just assume the other sees you,” Bentley said. “A big issue we see early in the mornings or late at night when there are low visibility issues, are people wearing dark clothing. If you’re going to be running or biking during these times, make sure to wear reflective clothing and or a flashing light of some sort.”
Drivers can avoid hitting pedestrians by coming to a complete stop at a stop sign.
“Too often do we see people rolling through stop signs from five to 10 miles per hour,” Bentley said. “We’ve become too comfortable as drivers expecting that no one will be crossing when we approach a stop sign.”
Drivers should stop before crossing any area that has a sidewalk intersecting it.
Drivers should also put away their cell phones or other distractions until they reach their destination, be alert in residential and school zones, and give pedestrians the right-of-way, according to White.
“Look both ways when making a turn to spot bikers, walkers, or runners,” he said.