Going at an average speed on a highway is certainly fast enough to cause injuries if a collision happens. In fact, speed is directly related to the severity of injuries in a crash.
More specifically, you can look at the impact of speed on pedestrian injuries. This is a topic that has been extensively studied, so the data is firm in the reality that the faster vehicles travel, the more likely it is that a pedestrian will be badly hurt or killed when hit.
At just 16 mph, a pedestrian has a 10% chance of suffering from a severe injury. For example, they might hit their head on the windshield or be run over by the vehicle. While most people would walk away with minor injuries or none at all, there is still a risk that a pedestrian could be severely injured.
With speed, the risk of a severe injury increases exponentially. At 23 mph, for instance, you would now have a 25% chance of suffering a severe injury. By 46 mph, the risk of a severe injury climbs to 90%.
The reason this matters is for pedestrian safety. As a pedestrian, you can make choices to limit your risk of being near fast-moving traffic and to be extra safe when you do need to be around vehicles traveling at a high-speed.
How can you be safer as a pedestrian who needs to walk to work, school or elsewhere?
When you’re going to have to walk, make sure you plan your route in advance. This is one of the best tips that you can follow.
Why does it matter? Consider this. If you can take a route along a 30 mph road or a route along a 45 mph roadway, you’ll be significantly safer in the case of an accident if you are hit at 30 mph. Therefore, even if the route is a little bit longer, it is physically safer to travel along the slower-speed roads.
Planning your route also makes it possible to choose a route that is set up to be safer for pedestrians. For example, a route with sidewalks will be safer than one where you have to talk on the shoulder of the roadway, especially if the shoulder is particularly narrow.
Of course, safety is a shared responsibility. Drivers need to travel at or below the posted speed limit. They should be wary of pedestrians and give you space to avoid a collision.