Pedestrian-Vehicle Collision: Could the Driver Have Avoided the Impact?

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Steven M. Schorr, PE ::::

Case Synopsis: Passenger vehicle was northbound (NB) on a two-lane roadway. The pedestrian was crossing from west to east [the driver’s left to right], in a marked crosswalk area. The collision occurred at night, in a well-lit area between the right front of the vehicle and the pedestrian. The speed limit was 25 miles per hour (mph). The plaintiff testified that she was on the west side of the intersection. She viewed the headlights of the NB vehicle to her right and determined that she had sufficient time and distance to safely cross the intersection. She testified that she was walking across the intersection, and was about one step from reaching the east side of the roadway, when she was struck. Defendant vehicle operator testified he was alert and paying attention as he proceeded NB, approaching the intersection. He was traveling 25mph when he observed the pedestrian, just prior to impact, and directly in front of him, at the right front of his vehicle.

Expert Analysis: Right side injuries to the pedestrian were consistent with her testimony that she was crossing from west to east. There was no data to establish that the pedestrian was traveling any faster than her testified walking speed. Further, based on the width of the roadway, the pedestrian would have been on the roadway for over 20 feet prior to the collision. At a typical walking speed of 4 to 5 feet per second, the pedestrian was on the roadway for approximately 4 to 5 seconds. At the speed limit of 25mph, the defendant vehicle would have been over between 145 and 180 feet away at the time the pedestrian started to cross the roadway. There were no obstructing views to the NB defendant vehicle operator. A similar condition night inspection confirmed that the defendant vehicle operator, had he looked, would have been able to view a crossing pedestrian from well over 250 feet away. Additionally, traveling at the speed limit of 25mph, the defendant vehicle operator could perceive react and stop completely in approximately 85 feet.

Conclusion: There was no engineering explanation for the defendant vehicle operator not to have seen the pedestrian prior to her being directly in front of his vehicle. The data established that the pedestrian was on the roadway for sufficient time and distance to allow the defendant vehicle operator, to perceive, react, and then either slow to allow the pedestrian to finish crossing or to stop completely prior to impact.

 

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