Bicyclists and Pedestrians Especially Vulnerable in Drunk Driving Accidents
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that approximately 31 percent of all traffic-related deaths are caused by drivers under the influence of alcohol. In total, this amounts to nearly 10,000 deaths each and every year. Pedestrians and bicyclists, who are largely unprotected during a vehicular impact, are often the most vulnerable. They also tend to be the ones most likely to be hit and injured or killed in a drunk driving accident.
The Effects of Impairment on a Driver
When a driver is on the effects of drugs or alcohol, his or her ability to driver is impaired. Reflexes are slower, vision may be blurry or otherwise impaired, and the driver is less effective at tracking and accessing the speed and movement of objects. Additionally, these effects can occur even if a driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) is far below the legal limit of 0.08 percent. In fact, specialists have estimated that, even at a BAC of just 0.02 percent, a driver may have trouble concentrating or effectively accessing a situation. Yet, under state law, the driver is within the legal driving limit. Of course, the higher the level of intoxication, the greater the driver's impairment. The greater his or her impairment, the higher the risk to society.
Why Pedestrians and Bicyclists Are Often at Higher Risk for Death or Injury
Pedestrians and bicyclists are often at an increased risk for being hit by a drunk driver, but why? For one, pedestrians and bicyclists are especially vulnerable because, unlike a driver, they are not contained within a structure and have no safety devices (other than possibly a helmet) to protect them. Yet this does not explain why they are so often the victims of drunk driving accidents. To understand this, you must first understand the behavior of both drunk drivers and of pedestrians and cyclists.
Pedestrians and bicyclists are often at a disadvantage on the roads because they are designed with drivers in mind. In some instances, they may simply be difficult to detect or see because the street lacks a lane, crosswalk, or traffic signal. But even when those safety features are present, the movement of pedestrians and bicyclists can be harder for drivers to predict. This, paired with the impaired judgement, reflexes, vision, and motor skills of a drunk driver, sets pedestrians and cyclists up for dangerous and potentially fatal situations.
To make matters worse, drunk drivers are often unpredictable themselves. This can further increase the risk for pedestrians and bicyclists. If, for example, a drunk driver is speeding, comes around a corner suddenly, or blows through a stop sign or stop light, the pedestrian or cyclist is in grave danger. Unable to predict the movement of the driver, the pedestrian or cyclist may already be in a vulnerable place or position and, unfortunately, he or she may not be able to move out of the way quickly enough to avoid being hit.
Understanding Your Legal Rights in a Drunk Driving Accident
If you or someone you love was injured by a drunk driver while walking, cycling, or even while driving, you may be due compensation for your losses or injuries. Furthermore, a drunk driver may be responsible to pay additional damages, called punitive damages, to punish him or her and to deter others from driving drunk and putting innocent people's lives at risk.
Unfortunately, the law as it pertains to drunk driving accidents can be extremely complex, and insurance companies are usually anything but fair. The skilled Green Bay drunk driving accident lawyers and Appleton drunk driving accident lawyers at Herrling Clark Law Firm Ltd. can protect your rights and help to improve your chances of a just and favorable outcome. Learn more by calling 920-739-7366 to schedule your free initial consultation today.