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Studies show drivers are not seeing cyclists or pedestrians

The outside world is in constant motion, and it can seem difficult to keep track of everything you encounter while driving. However, it is vital that drivers remain aware of their surroundings at all times, otherwise, the likelihood of a serious crash greatly increases.

Statistically, drivers repeatedly struggle to notice bicyclists and pedestrians. The number of pedestrians killed in traffic deaths across the United States has increased faster than the rate of all other traffic deaths in recent years. From 2007 to 2016, pedestrian fatalities increased 27 percent. The numbers have been grim for bicyclists too, as there were 840 bicyclist deaths nationally in 2016, an increase from the year before.

Why are there so many pedestrian accidents?

The exact causes of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths can be numerous, but one new study sheds light on a major issue. Research shows that many drivers are not checking for pedestrians or bicyclists before turning right. This new study is even more concerning when just a few short years ago another study showed that pedestrians were at serious risk when drivers were turning left.

Researchers used special equipment on drivers aged 35 to 54 that tracked their eye movement. The eye tracking technology was used to accurately note where the drivers were looking when turning at an intersection. Here are five of their main findings:

  1. Over half the drivers did not look in critical areas where cyclists or pedestrians would be.
  2. Many drivers failed to look over their shoulder before turning.
  3. Parked vehicles blocked many of the drivers' views of the bike lane.
  4. Drivers who were more familiar with the area were less diligent about checking their surroundings.
  5. Drivers who were less familiar with the area showed more caution while turning.

The takeaway from this study, as well as the statistics showing such increases in fatalities for both pedestrians and bicyclists, is that drivers may not be taking the time to properly look before turning. When you are out on the roads, as a driver, bicyclist or a pedestrian, it is important to be alert and never assume you are being seen or accounted for.

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