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How likely are you to be hit by a car?

If you've ever had a near-miss with a car while crossing the street on foot, you may have felt both angry at the driver who almost hit you and relieved that you escaped catastrophe. It's natural to ponder how your life could have changed -- or ended -- in a matter of seconds. But have you stopped to consider what led to that close call? What's the likelihood that you'll fall victim to another car, another day, on another street?

It turns out that your likelihood of being involved in a pedestrian-car accident rides on a number of factors, some of which are within your control. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's statistics on fatal pedestrian accidents offer some clues as to who is most at risk. Knowing who the most frequent victims are may give you pause to look both ways before you cross.

When it comes to states with the highest pedestrian accident rates, South Carolina's rate is disconcerting: It ranks sixth overall in pedestrian fatalities. The reasons for this aren't entirely clear, though it's worth noting that the fatalities in the No. 1-ranked state are attributed to drunk drivers.

But are drivers the only controlling factor? Certainly not. A look at the gender breakdown of affected pedestrians shows that with exceptions in a couple of states, males are much more likely to be killed in a pedestrian-vehicle accident. In South Carolina, females comprise only 28 percent of the fatality rate. Insurance experts speculate this could be due to higher rates of binge drinking and a tendency to take unnecessary risks, though abstaining from those activities offers no guarantees, of course. The average age of a pedestrian accident victim in our state is 42, long past the typical binge-drinking, high-risk years.

Oftentimes, of course, it's the thoroughfare itself. One of the nation's deadliest intersections is at an exit off Interstate 95 in Walterboro, South Carolina. Any combination of fast-moving traffic and people on foot can contribute to higher accident rates.

All of this is not to say that if you are a 42-year-old South Carolina man who routinely crosses busy intersections, your days are numbered. What it should tell us, rather, is that pedestrian accidents do not happen purely by chance. There are certain risk factors to be aware of and combine with common sense (it might be a good idea to take off those traffic noise-cancelling headphones, for instance).

In the event you are injured in a pedestrian accident, you'll want to seek legal representation. Just as NHTSA investigates the causes of such accidents nationwide, an experienced personal injury attorney will look into all the factors involved in your accident to determine who is at fault and ensure that you're properly compensated. Particularly if you suffered serious injuries, your physical and financial recovery from an accident is one more thing you don't want to leave up to chance.

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