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March 2020

Pedestrian risks for vehicle related TBIs

The current estimates place the yearly number of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) at around 2.87 million. TBI was named as a contributing factor in the deaths of 56,800 people, according to the most recent CDC study. Falls are listed as the leading cause of TBIs. For pedestrians on sidewalks, crosswalks and paths adjoining busy roads, traffic collisions represent a significant percentage of TBI cases.

What constitutes a TBI?

A traumatic brain injury can be related to a head impact or a head injury that involves skull penetration, which disrupts normal brain functioning. Medical professionals assess the severity of these injuries according to the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), 13-15 being mild and 3-8 being severe.

Determining the cause

There were 5,977 pedestrians killed and 137,000 treated for injuries related to traffic crashes in 2017. Given the circumstances surrounding most pedestrian-vehicle collisions, injuries are more likely to be severe. The following conditions heighten the probability of a pedestrian injury or death:

  • Alcohol or drug impairment: About 47% of crashes resulting in a pedestrian death involved intoxication. Of those recorded, 17% involved a driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of a minimum of 0.08g/dL.
  • Distracted drivers: In the age of smartphones, distracted drivers are a common occurrence. Drivers failing to pay attention to the road have resulted in a high number of accidents involving pedestrians.
  • High vehicle speed: Areas with higher speed limits and high-speed roads have higher probabilities for pedestrian injury.
  • Visibility: According to CDC studies, most pedestrian deaths occur at non-intersection areas at night.
  • Age: In 2017, 1-in-5 children under 15 killed in traffic accidents were pedestrians.
  • Failure to stop at traffic signs and lights: Whether it’s because a driver is distracted or driving recklessly, many pedestrian accidents involve failed stops or ignored traffic signals.

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