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At what speed can a pedestrian crash become deadly?

Motor vehicles are incredibly powerful even at relatively low speeds. The human body simply isn’t durable enough to withstand the force that a motor vehicle can generate, especially without the protection of vehicle infrastructure.

When motor vehicles strike pedestrians, people can break bones or develop even worse injuries because of the force of impact. Some people hit their heads and develop brain injuries, while others might incur spinal cord injuries. While the people in the vehicle may barely notice anything, the pedestrian might have injuries that cost thousands and that leave them with significant pain.

Quite a few pedestrian crashes are fatal. A person without the protection of a vehicle can incur injuries so severe that they do not survive. One of the main factors that influence the likelihood of a fatal pedestrian collision is the speed of the vehicle at the time of the crash.

Many factors influence overall risks

It is important to understand that while speed is a key contributing factor to the risk level inherent in a pedestrian crash, it is far from the only concern. An individual’s age can be a major consideration as well.

People who are near or past retirement age and minor children may be at higher risk of dying in a pedestrian collision. Those with certain underlying medical conditions may also have an elevated risk of fatal pedestrian injuries.

That being said, the higher the speed of the vehicle, the greater the likelihood of the pedestrian dying. Roughly 10% of people struck by vehicles traveling at 23 miles per hour (mph) die, but that figure jumps to 50% at 42 mph. Once a vehicle’s speed reaches 58 mph, the pedestrian has a 90% chance of dying during the crash.

Therefore, crashes on rural roads are highly likely to be fatal because of higher speed limits and the likelihood of motorists exceeding those limits. Even in urban areas with lower speed limits, drivers can still cause injuries that put people in the hospital and that potentially alter their earning potential.

Those affected by pedestrian collisions may need to file insurance claims or possibly take the matter to civil court. A lawyer can help people determine whether insurance is likely to provide adequate compensation after a pedestrian crash.