Charleston SC airport traveler safety tips

At Airports, You May Be Safer in the Air Than On the Ground

Aviophobia, or fear of flying, affects 2.5 to 6.5 percent of Americans. Often, people fear the lack of control they have in a plane setting. This fear keeps millions of Americans away from flights each year.

Fear of flying is often larger than the actual risks associated with flying. Meanwhile, the fear of being a pedestrian at an airport is often smaller than the actual risks. Statistically, the average traveler faces a higher risk of death from a pedestrian crash on airport grounds than they do inside a plane.

Why Are Airports So Dangerous for Pedestrians?

Airports are busy places, especially at ground level. Factors that raise the risk of a pedestrian-vehicle crash include the following:

  • Distracted, lost, confused, or rushed drivers who are unfamiliar with the area and its traffic control methods.
  • Large groups of pedestrians are distracted as they search for signs or routes to their destinations and cross busy traffic lanes
  • Pedestrians and workers unloading luggage, talking to acquaintances or staff, and doing other tasks in or near vehicle lanes. 
  • Inadequate, confusing, or missing signs. 
  • Poor lighting, especially at night or in bad weather. 
  • Impatient drivers and road rage at being stuck in a drop-off/pick-up lane and no way out. 

These and other factors led to several pedestrian deaths at airports in 2023. A few national examples illustrate the dangers pedestrians can face at airports.

  • In March 2023, a pedestrian died when he was hit by a bus at Boston’s Logan Airport.
  • In April 2023, a pedestrian who was struck by a driver at Richmond International Airport died at the scene. 
  • In May 2023, a pedestrian was hit and killed in heavy traffic by a speeding Uber driver at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta airport.
  • In October 2023, an employee at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport died after being hit by a vehicle at the airport.

Although Charleston International Airport is relatively small compared to other airports, this does not exclude travelers from experiencing the same dangers. Anyone stepping out of a car to unload their luggage or hurrying across a busy terminal area to hop into a car can be struck at any moment. Sustaining serious head, back, or leg injuries can be life-changing or, in some cases, result in a fatality. According to the SCDPS Traffic Fatality report, in the area surrounding Charleston airport, there were six pedestrian fatalities in 2023. 

Pedestrian Accidents, Injuries, and Deaths at Airports

In a collision between a car and a pedestrian, the pedestrian is more likely to suffer severe or fatal injuries. The CDC estimates that one in six people who died in traffic accidents in 2021 were pedestrians. Approximately 104,000 injured pedestrians needed emergency room treatment after a crash. 

The CDC notes that “speed, location, vehicle size, and alcohol” are the top four risk factors behind fatal pedestrian crashes. These factors also play a role in many airport pedestrian deaths. 

To help reduce the risk of serious injury or death during an airport visit:

  • Stay alert. Whether you’re a driver or a pedestrian, take extra care to look around you. If you can plan your route or identify your destination before arriving at the airport, do so. 
  • Slow down. TSA procedures generally recommend passengers arriving two hours before their flights to pass through security. Add more time to these two hours, so you’re not rushed into a fatal mistake. 
  • Never travel outside marked areas. If you’re a pedestrian, stick to designated crosswalks. If you’re driving, pay careful attention to lanes and ramps and stick to them. 
  • Make yourself more visible. If you’re driving, use your vehicle lights, even in the daytime. 
  • Stop. Come to a complete stop at each stop sign in the Charleston terminal roadway. Wait for pedestrians crossing from the parking garage and car rental area before proceeding.
  • Know where you are going. Look at a map of the airport if you are not familiar with it rather than winging it in advance.
  • Set your GPS. Do not start driving out of the airport area until you have your map GPS already started. Fidding with directions while driving is distracted driving.
  • Have a backup plan if the economy lot is full, which is often.

What to Do If You or Someone You Love is Injured at an Airport

If you or someone you love is injured in an airport car crash:

  • Get medical attention immediately. The first step in any type of accident is to call 911 if needed or seek medical attention. 
  • Gather what information you can at the scene. If you’re present at the scene, take photos, draw or make notes of what you saw, and get contact information from any witnesses. If possible, call an experienced South Carolina pedestrian accident lawyer to help you at the scene. 
  • Save all your paperwork. Doctor and hospital forms, copies of bills and receipts, and other information about the accident and its aftermath can help you build a case for the compensation you and your family need.

Words cannot describe the impact of losing a loved one. When that loss occurs suddenly and unexpectedly, it can be even harder to process. 

The attorneys at the Steinberg Law Firm understand what you’re facing. We’re here to help you get the compensation your family needs and hold negligent parties accountable for their actions. We handle your case so you can focus on your current needs. To learn more, contact us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

Updated on December 6, 2023

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