Many Georgia drivers assume that going 5 or 10 mph over the speed limit really is not that big of a deal. However, when a vehicle strikes a pedestrian, every mile per hour counts, and speed is only one of the factors that affect how serious the pedestrian’s injuries will be.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the first problem with driving faster is that it increases the likelihood of a crash. Not only that, though, the force of the blow is much, much higher when the vehicle is moving at what most drivers may consider to be a relatively safe speed. A pedestrian is at a 10% risk of sustaining a severe injury when the vehicle is moving at 17 mph. At 25 mph, that increases to 25%, and at 33 mph, it is 50%.

Different vehicle designs will have an effect on the severity of the injuries, too, as well as the height of the pedestrian. For example, an SUV is more likely to strike an adult somewhere on the upper body, while a smaller car may hit the knees or legs. A young child is likely to sustain the most severe injuries.

Whether a vehicle is traveling at 5 or 50 mph, pedestrians need to do everything they can to minimize their chances of being hit. Constant vigilance is crucial, says the National Safety Council. People on foot should never assume that a driver sees them, even if they are crossing with the light in a marked crosswalk at an intersection. The NSC recommends making eye contact with the driver before stepping off the curb. To improve visibility and reduce the chances of a car accident, pedestrians should wear bright colors, carry a flashlight at night, avoid being in vehicle blind spots and, if possible, cross the street in groups.