Study Finds the Pedestrian Fatality Rate Is Rising

There’s a disturbing trend that’s been building over the last decade on American streets. A recent study from the Governors Highway Safety Association has found that over 6,200 pedestrians were killed by motor vehicle accidents in 2018. These statistics were created using data from the first six months of the year. That figure represents a 4 percent increase from 2017 and the highest number of pedestrian deaths since 1990.

This increase adds to the rising trend of pedestrian fatalities in the United States. Though motor vehicle crashes have decreased in the last 10 years, pedestrian fatalities have seen a 35 percent increase. In 2008, 4,414 pedestrians were killed in accidents. By 2017, the number of pedestrian fatalities ballooned to 5,977. Today, pedestrian fatalities account for 16 percent of all motor vehicle-related deaths while all other traffic deaths decreased by 6 percent.

Where & When Are Pedestrian Accidents Occurring?

Pedestrian fatalities increased in 25 states, did not change in 2, and decreased in 23 states. Notably, 5 states account for 46 percent of the nation’s pedestrian fatalities: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, and Texas. These states also account for 33 percent of the nation’s population.

As for when pedestrian accidents occur, 90 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur at night, according to a 2017 Brookings Institute study.

What Causes Pedestrian Fatalities?

According to Madison Forker, communications manager for the GHSA, these accidents have no specific cause. Forker commented that “There’s no single factor we can blame for the increase in pedestrian deaths. Generally, we have seen an increase in vehicle miles traveled over the past few years, and are seeing more people choosing to walk, so exposure is very likely at play.” She continued by adding “Most pedestrian fatalities occur in the dark, on local streets, away from intersections, so unfriendly street design is also a critical factor.”

Emiko Atherton, director of the National Complete Streets Coalition from Smart Growth America, agrees with Forker’s assessment about poorly designed streets. In a comment about the study, Atherton said that American roads have failed to evolve with the times. Though more people are choosing to walk, Atherton says that America contains “…car-oriented communities that are not friendly to pedestrians.”

Smart Growth America has also found that, because poverty is spreading to suburban America, more people are walking because their community does not have adequate public transportation. So, those who can’t afford a car must navigate streets that were not designed for walkers in the first place.

“Through the suburbanization of poverty, we’re putting people that need good transit, walking and biking the most, in the most unsafe positions,” said Atherton.

Other factors may contribute to pedestrian fatalities. For example, the GHSA found that alcohol impairment was reported for about half of all fatal accidents in the study. About 32 percent of pedestrians and 17 percent of drivers had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%, the level at which a person is legally considered to be intoxicated.

Additionally, large motor vehicles may be partially to blame for this increase in pedestrian fatalities. Large sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are involved in 50 percent more accidents than in previous years, though smaller passenger vehicles still cause more fatal accidents, SUVs are quickly catching up with significant increases of deadly accidents each year.

What to Do if Your Loved One Was Killed in a Motor Vehicle Accident

If your loved one was killed by the negligence of a motor vehicle operator, you're entitled to justice. Drivers always have a responsibility to look for pedestrians, no matter how hard it is to see them on the road. Those who cause the deaths of pedestrians should provide compensation to the families their negligence has impacted. Drivers should not wait for cities and towns to improve roadways. Instead, they must slow down, drive responsibly, and remain attentive at the wheel.

The pedestrian accident attorneys from Handler, Henning & Rosenberg are ready to help recover your losses after the death of a loved one. We know these times are hard and are prepared to fight for the compensation you need to get through this difficult time. We’ve helped thousands of clients win tens of millions of dollars, and we’re ready to use this experience to fight for you. Call us today at (888) 498-3023 for a free consultation of your case.

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