An understanding of basic pedestrian safety guidelines may have helped prevent an accident on Thursday, January 19, that left one 15-year-old girl from Durango, Colorado, seriously injured, The Durango Herald reports.
According to the news source, Melia Adair, a student at Big Picture High School, was allegedly struck by a pickup truck while walking along U.S. Highway 550. The accident occurred in the northbound lanes of the road at about 6:10 p.m. along a dark spot on the highway.
Cody Whitley, 20, stated he was traveling in the Chevrolet vehicle near milepost 27 at about 50 miles per hour in a 55 mile-per-hour zone, and that he was headed home and “really not in a hurry.”
As a car began to allegedly tailgate Whitley, he slowed to about 45 miles per hour and merged into the right lane, dimming his high beams as the car behind him passed. He then slowed further to make a right turn off the highway when he spotted Adair walking northbound and slammed on his brakes.
The police report, filed by Captain Martin Petrik of the Colorado State Patrol, states that Whitley’s car was traveling at about 15 miles per hour when it collided with Adair. Whitley claimed Adair was wearing a long-sleeved black shirt with her hood up and dark blue sweat pants, allegedly making her nearly impossible to see.
“It was completely dark, and it scared me how quickly her body appeared in front of me,” Whitley stated.
Petrik’s report also states that Adair was walking in the same direction as traffic and was wearing dark clothing.
Colorado law states that all drivers must be certain that nothing is in their path of travel before changing lanes or turning off of a road. Citing this stipulation, CSP issued Whitley a ticket for careless driving causing injury, according to the news source.
However, the ongoing investigation could result in Adair being cited as well, CSP Corporal Jarad Rapp stated. The law states that pedestrians must walk on the left side of the road in order to face traffic, he said.
According to the Colorado State Patrol, pedestrian violations resulted in four fatalities and 19 injuries in 2008, the latest year for which data is available. In total, 35 crashes were found to be caused by pedestrian violations.