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Trust, but verify: a survival tactic for some pedestrians

Pit a person walking in San Antonio against a rolling ton and a-half or two of engine-powered metal. What happens when they collide? You don't have to be a rocket scientist at the Johnson Space Center to know that the relatively unprotected body is the one that will suffer the worst.

Odds are good that the walker will be seriously injured at least. Too often, the outcome of such crashes is a death that should have been preventable. In the emotional storm that follows, questions will begin to swirl. How could this happen? Is there some way to hold the responsible person accountable? What should we do? 

The turmoil that strikes after a crash is not an ideal time for rational consideration of such questions. That's why we talk about these kinds of issues now. It serves as a kind of mental rehearsal for what to do in case of an emergency. Step one: consult with an experienced attorney. Learn about your rights and options. Appreciate how the law may serve to give you a foundation on which you can build and recover.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrian fatalities are a growing problem. In 2011, they accounted for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States. That represented a 3 percent increase over 2010.

There are certain factors that tend to elevate the risk of pedestrian fatalities. Living in a city is one. Crossing at places other than an intersection is another. Half of all pedestrian fatalities tend to happen on the weekend and a 32 percent of them happen between 8 and 12 at night.

One NHTSA statement on this issue strikes us as particularly intriguing. Officials say it's accepted that neither pedestrians nor drivers are consistent when it comes to obeying laws and traffic control signals. And even though pedestrians generally know they have the right of way, only 60 percent expect drivers to stop for them when they're in a crosswalk.

It seems they want to trust, but know they need to verify. 

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