Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents in South Carolina

South Carolina unfortunately sees a high number of pedestrian accidents each year. In 2022 alone, the state had the second highest number of deaths in the entire country. And, according to the South Carolina Department of Transportation, over 7500 pedestrians were struck or killed in 2022, an unfortunate large increase from the previous year. Understanding the common causes of these accidents can help bring awareness to pedestrians and drivers to help reduce these alarming statistics.

In this article, we’ll explain the most common causes of pedestrian accidents in South Carolina.

Distracted Driving

One of the top causes of pedestrian accidents in South Carolina is distracted driving. With the rise in cell phone use and technology in vehicles, drivers are often not fully focused on the road. Texting, talking on the phone, adjusting music, inputting navigation or even just being generally inattentive are all forms of distracted driving. When a driver is not completely aware of their surroundings, they may not notice a pedestrian crossing the street or walking on the sidewalk. Tragically, this distracted driving leads to many pedestrian injuries and fatalities each year.

Failure to Yield Right-of-Way

Another top cause of pedestrian accidents is drivers failing to yield the right-of-way. Pedestrians have the right-of-way at crosswalks, when entering a sidewalk from a driveway, and in parking lots. However, many drivers are either unaware of these rules or simply ignore them. Blowing through a crosswalk or backing out of a driveway without looking are common ways drivers fail to yield to pedestrians. These actions put pedestrians at serious risk of being hit. Pedestrians should be alert, make eye contact, and ensure vehicles are stopped before entering the roadway. However, the onus is on the driver to be aware of pedestrian right-of-way laws and abide by them.

Nighttime Conditions

South Carolina pedestrian accidents tend to increase at night for a few reasons. Reduced visibility in darkness makes it harder for drivers to see pedestrians. Many pedestrians also wear dark clothing at night, which provides little contrast against dimly lit roads and sidewalks. Impaired driving is more common at night as well. All of these factors come together to make nighttime walking exceptionally hazardous. Using reflective gear, avoiding dark clothing and being vigilant of surroundings can help pedestrians stay safer at night. Well-lit roads, crosswalks and sidewalks also increase visibility for drivers.


Higher vehicle speeds greatly reduce the ability of drivers to react to pedestrians and increase the severity of accidents. Areas with higher speed limits and reckless drivers put pedestrians at risk. Some troubling statistics indicate over 25% of drivers exceed speed limits on South Carolina interstates. Speeding is especially dangerous in neighborhoods, school zones, and downtown areas where pedestrians are more common. Strict enforcement of speed limits and traffic calming measures such as speed bumps and narrowed lanes help reduce speeding and its consequences.

Impaired Driving

Drunk, drugged, and drowsy driving all impair a driver’s reaction time and awareness. These impaired drivers are much more likely to cause pedestrian accidents due to delayed braking, swerving and poor decision making. Pedestrians should be on high alert around bars, clubs and other venues that serve alcohol, where impaired driving rates tend to be highest after closing time. Drunk driving accounts for nearly one-third of South Carolina traffic deaths annually, and the state ranks at number 11 for drunk driving fatalities. Strict DUI laws and enforcement, ridesharing programs, and education aim to take impaired drivers off the road to protect pedestrians.

Dangerous Roads/Infrastructure

Poorly designed roads, intersections, and sidewalks also endanger pedestrians. Areas with limited lighting, crosswalks, signage and pedestrian islands provide minimal protection. Some roadways are simply not built with pedestrian safety in mind. Advocating for pedestrian friendly infrastructure improvements can help reduce accidents over time. This includes better lit crosswalks, sidewalks buffered from traffic, reduced speed limits in populated areas and enhanced signage/signals at crossings. Until improvements are made, pedestrians need to be very cautious when navigating high risk areas.

Lack of Safety Education

Many drivers and pedestrians are simply unaware of traffic laws, right-of-way rules and general safety precautions. Improving pedestrian and driver education could help prevent many accidents caused by lack of knowledge. Safety tips like maintaining eye contact, obeying signals, parking lot precautions, reflective clothing and defensive walking/driving skills are not common sense to everyone. Incorporating pedestrian and driver safety into school curriculum, public service announcements, community outreach and signage campaigns could significantly boost awareness on both sides.

Inattentive Pedestrians

While the duty is on the driver to watch for pedestrians, walkers also need to be attentive. Pedestrians who are distracted by phones or headphones and not fully aware of traffic put themselves in danger. Inattentive pedestrians may unintentionally step into the roadway without looking. Making eye contact with drivers, following walk signals and avoiding distractions can help pedestrians take responsibility for their own safety.

Weather Conditions

Inclement weather like rain, snow and fog impacts visibility and road conditions for both drivers and walkers. Slippery roads make stopping distances longer for vehicles while also making surfaces precarious for pedestrians. Reduced visibility in fog and snow decreases the distance at which drivers can notice and react to pedestrians. Extra caution by both groups is required in poor weather.

Pedestrian safety requires effort from both pedestrians and drivers alike. Reducing common accident causes like distraction, impairment, speeding and lack of education relies on each group being responsible on the road. Pedestrians should utilize reflectors, signals and defensive techniques to protect themselves. Drivers need to eliminate distractions, follow speed limits and watch for pedestrians. With thousands injured each year, improving pedestrian safety in South Carolina must be a priority.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Monge & Associates today at (888) 477-0597 for a free consultation. With 32 offices in 19 states, including South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, our team has successfully handled pedestrian accident cases for years. Let us review your case details to help you recover deserved compensation. Contact us today to get started.