The cost of pedestrian injury versus the cost of prevention

Pedestrian accidents in crosswalks occur all too often and are on the rise. According to a recent GHSA study[1], the nationwide number of pedestrians killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2018 was 6,227 – an increase of four percent from 2017.

Accident prevention can come at a cost. But the cost of crosswalk accidents at a private facility or public crosswalk can be more costly – even devastating to the business or city.

While providing pedestrian safety systems for many industries, including private campuses and facilities, as well as airports, cities and school zones, we have witnessed that the cost of pedestrian accidents can massively outweigh the cost of prevention.

So what do pedestrian accidents cost?

All crosswalks carry a certain level of risk regardless of location. Whether it’s at a parking garage entrance or exit, a corporate campus parking area, a heavily used public downtown crossing, or at a trail crossing where pedestrians take walks – anywhere vehicles intersect with pedestrians potential danger exists.

For example, according to published data thousands of individuals are struck by automobiles that are backing out of parking spots every year. Parking lot accidents can take place at grocery stores, supermarkets, shopping malls, school parking structures, building parking garages and lots, airport parking structures, and just about any kind of parking lot. Low-speed impacts with pedestrians in parking lots are thought of as minor, but often result in serious and life-threatening injuries including fractures to the foot, knee and ligament damage, brain injuries, and facial injuries, even death. Victims of parking lot pedestrian accidents are entitled to compensation from all at fault parties.

Damages caused by pedestrian accidents can be easily mitigated by adding more safety lighting such as a pedestrian warning system, which is better known as a lighted crosswalk. Lighted crosswalks are a fixed cost. 

Public streets, workplace and facility injuries, however, can create a financial ripple effect. This goes well beyond medical expenses and can cost any company, city or facility owners valuable time and money.

According to OSHA, it has been estimated that employers pay almost $1 billion per week for direct workers’ compensation costs alone. The costs of workplace injuries include direct and indirect costs. 

What are direct and indirect costs?

Direct costs include workers’ compensation payments, medical expenses, and costs for legal services. Examples of indirect costs include legal representation, accident investigation and implementation of corrective measures, lost productivity, and costs associated with lower employee morale and absenteeism.

A further look into these costs:

Compensation for employees or injured family members

If a member of staff is injured in a work-related accident, it is the employer’s responsibility to cover any medical expenses. If a pedestrian is injured at a private or public parking garage or facility, the facility owners (or city if a publicly owned property) may be sued by the injured party and/or their family. Accidents victims at locations with a history of pedestrian accidents have been awarded upwards of $12M.

What you can do to increase the safety of pedestrians?

Prevention is the key. You can help prevent any of these costs and potentially human lives by putting preventions in place:

Advanced warning lights 

Smart Crosswalk in-roadway warning light system image
Smart crosswalk components: in-roadway warning lights (IRWLs), base plates, passive pedestrian detection bollards (or push buttons), LED border-enhanced warning signs (or RRFBs), solar or AC powered controller, and cabinet.

The most effective way to prevent pedestrian injury and accident costs is to install a LightGuard Systems advanced warning light solution. Lighted crosswalks are a proven method of alerting drivers of pedestrians inside a crosswalk. In-roadway warning lights are embedded into the asphalt ahead of the crosswalk. When a pedestrian enters a crosswalk, sensors trigger the system’s flashing lights. RRFBs or LED border-enhanced warning signs can also be added to increase the level of warning. Using motion detection devices, pedestrians can also be warned of approaching vehicles with LED warning signs, or other output devices available from LightGuard Systems.

The price is irrelevant, as pedestrians lives will be saved

The equipment cost of a LightGuard Systems smart crosswalk advanced warning solution (the prevention) starts at $5000 with an average system cost of $14,500 — which is far better than the ongoing costs of pedestrian accidents. 

[1] Spotlight on Highway Safety, Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State, 2018 Preliminary Data, Governors Highway Safety Association, @GHSAHQ