Pedestrian dangers: Who's most vulnerable in a crash and what you can do to avoid it

Posted at 2:38 PM, Jan 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-04 17:19:53-05

A 69-year-old man was in the hospital Wednesday after being struck by a van on North Avenue in Baltimore.

The surveillance video across the street shows the man jay walking, not looking as he crossed the street, causing a car to slow down and stop to avoid hitting him. Then, once on the other side of the center divider, a car zooms by and violently crashes into the man. The car did not stop.

This is starting the conversation for many on what you should do as a driver and pedestrian to stay safe.

Det. Jeremy Silbert, Baltimore Police spokesman, said everyone needs to be more aware.

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"So often we see pedestrians using their cellphones and they're texting while they walk, they're looking at their phone, they have their earbuds in, they're not aware of what's around them," Silbert said.

Sixteen people were killed in 2016 after being struck by cars in Baltimore City.

That came as no surprise to some Baltimore residents. 

"I probably see something like that every day," said Dawn Zenczykiewicz, who works in the city and says she sees jay walkers and close calls every day.

"I've seen people literally as a car is coming down the street really fast, just try to cross the street and come very close to being hit," Zenczykiewicz said.

"I'm old enough now that I know you look a couple of times, because you never know when somebody's going to come out of nowhere," she added.

Here's the breakdown:

The people most at risk to get hit while crossing are those 65 and older, or 14 and under. About 14 percent of fatal traffic accidents are pedestrian involved, according to the Center for Disease Control.

In Maryland, 110 pedestrians died in 2013, and more than 2,000 were injured.

Three out of every 10 crashes involved a driver 34 years old or younger.

In Maryland, you can get fined by police if you don't respect pedestrians. It's $80 to $500 if you don't stop for a pedestrian to cross when they're allowed.

Drivers can get fined $70 to $500 if you fail to exercise due care to avoid hitting any pedestrian.

As a pedestrian, you can get a similar fine for jay walking, or crossing against a signal. 

Police say being aware, especially while making a right or left-hand turn through an intersection is crucial for drivers to avoid hitting any pedestrian. Silbert says the same goes for pedestrians, look both ways before crossing the street, and stay off the phone while entering an intersection.

"I can only speak for myself, I do it because it's quicker, why? If I'm like down here, you see how it is right now (gesturing toward speeding cars at the Inner Harbor) why walk all the way up here to get across the street?Like I said, if I see the opportunity I'm going to take it, you know but I want to make sure the opportunity is safe," Keyjuan Branch said.

Branch said he's been hit while in the cross walk, and said he thinks it's fine to jay walk as long as you do it safely.

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