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Illinois Pedestrians and Cyclists at Risk for Injury by Motorists

No matter who is at fault, when an accident occurs between a car and a pedestrian or car and a cyclist, the motorists are more likely to walk away unscathed. Pedestrians and cyclists are at greater risk of injury on the open road because, unlike people in cars, pedestrians and cyclists are not protected by a shield of steel.

For example, in Illinois five cyclists were killed in accidents in 2010 alone, and 149 were injured, based on information from the Illinois Department of Transportation. Nationally, car crashes killed 4,654 pedestrians in 2007, while over 70,000 pedestrians were injured. In fact, a person walking is 36 times more at risk to die from a car accident than people driving in cars.

The speed of the car is one of the most important contributing factors to pedestrian and cyclist injury. A person hit by a car going 20 mph has a 95 percent chance of surviving the collision. The number drops to 50 percent if the car is going 30 mph, and it plummets to 15 percent if the car is going 40 mph. The injuries to pedestrians and cyclists can be substantial. They include broken bones, spinal injuries and concussions.

A majority of bicycle accidents occur when a car turns in front of or into a cyclist. According to the Medill School at Northwestern University, the most dangerous intersections for cyclists in the Chicago area are Chicago-Ogden-Milwaukee, Milwaukee-North-Damen and Clark-Diversey.

The source of injury can also come from more unexpected contact between cars and those people outside of them. For example, many cyclists talk about being "doored," which occurs when a person getting out of a vehicle opens a car door directly in front of an oncoming person on a bicycle. This type of collision can also cause serious injury, and the motorist is generally considered to be at fault.

Safety Tips to Avoid Accidents and Injury

Cyclists should follow the same rules of the road as those in cars. These include stopping at red lights and stop signs, and leaving the sidewalk for pedestrian use. Riders should also wear protective gear like a helmet, and wear clothing that makes them easier to see (including bright colors and reflective tape/vests).

Those walking can avoid Illinois pedestrian accidents by crossing the street only at crosswalks, and by obeying pedestrian traffic lights. It is also a good idea for pedestrians to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the road to make sure they are seen.

Motorists should also be alert for pedestrians and cyclists, especially in downtown areas where space is tight and bikes or pedestrians may quickly appear from behind a building or parked car.

If motorists, cyclists and pedestrians all take appropriate safety precautions, hopefully Illinois' roads will be safer for everyone.

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