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A recent report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) sheds new light on the increasing number of pedestrian deaths. The article mentions an increase of 46% since 2009. Further, a February 2018 article by National Public Radio stated that pedestrian deaths have reached a 25-year high for the second consecutive year. The cars we purchase are safer than ever, but more and more pedestrians are being killed and injured.
Just how bad is this issue?
The NPR article listed above stated that pedestrian deaths have been at a 25-year high for the second year in a row. What’s even more alarming is the increase from 2016 to 2017. NPR claims the year-to-year increase is 27%. In 2017, nearly 6,000 pedestrians died. According to NPR, five states: California, Florida, Texas, New York and Arizona, accounted for 43% of pedestrian deaths during the first half of 2017, despite being home to just 30% of the U.S. population. Another alarming statistic reveals that 8 of the top 10 most dangerous areas were in Florida according to the study by Smart Growth America.
Why are deaths increasing?
If you look at the increased numbers, you might assume it’s because drivers aren’t paying attention. While it’s true that distracted drivers are one reason that pedestrian deaths are on the rise, it’s not the only one. The IIHS stated that there are many reasons. Some, like distracted drivers, are obvious, but others are more nuanced.
The IIHS found that pedestrian deaths are worse in urban areas. Larger cities are dense, with more people and more cars. However, rural areas are experiencing increased pedestrian deaths due to a lack of infrastructure. Large metropolitan areas are often set up in a grid pattern. There are usually crosswalks and traffic lights at every block, making it easier and safer for pedestrians to cross. However, most suburban areas aren’t set up this way, and instead, force pedestrians to walk long distances without crosswalks or traffic lights. The long distance between crosswalks encourages pedestrians to walk across busy traffic areas, leading to more individuals getting hit by oncoming traffic.
— IIHS (@IIHS_autosafety) June 14, 2018
This cause of pedestrian death was brought to national attention recently when an autonomous Uber vehicle hit a pedestrian crossing a four-lane roadway. The individual who was struck was crossing traffic in an area not designated for pedestrians. The incident also occurred at night, which brings up another issue mentioned by the IIHS. Many pedestrians are hit at night due to low visibility. The problem with visibility is two-fold. The first issue is the result of poorly lit roadways. Street lights help with visibility, but the infrastructure in most cities doesn’t include proper street lighting. The other issue with visibility involves vehicle headlights. The IIHS states that current vehicle headlights may blind pedestrians, and they don’t provide good visibility, especially at a distance.
The things we drive most destroy us.
In a situation in which a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle, the pedestrian is always at a disadvantage. However, being struck by a small economy car is much different than being struck by a crossover, SUV or truck. The way in which a vehicle impacts a pedestrian makes a big difference, as well. For instance, a small car may strike a pedestrian in the leg or the knees. A crossover, SUV or truck rides higher than a car, meaning the point of impact is also higher. So instead of being struck in the knee or leg, a pedestrian may be struck in the chest or head. An impact near your vital organs is more likely to result in a fatality. In 2018, we have more large vehicles on the road than at any other time in history.
In their report on pedestrian safety, the IIHS also mentioned increased speed as a major factor in pedestrian deaths. Speed limits nationally have increased. The IIHS suggests a way to decrease this issue is to decrease speeds. They also suggest increased use of speed cameras as a way to deter speeding. However, there is a lot of opposition to this proposal.
The general public isn’t aware of the increasing number of pedestrian deaths. The IIHS and many other outlets are working hard to make the public aware, since raising awareness is one of the best ways to tackle this problem. However, some auto manufacturers are taking things a step further. Manufacturers like Subaru are creating crash avoidance systems which can detect pedestrians. Many automakers are starting to design their vehicles to minimize pedestrian injuries. Some cars now come equipped with explosive charges at the base of the hood. If your car hits a pedestrian, the base of the hood will pop up to push the individual back up. Volvo is currently offering this on some new cars with this feature.
We need to be more careful on the road. Too many people are dying because of these accidents. If you want to know more about the services we offer, or if you’d like to sign up for a free consultation, give us a call today. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so we can contact you at a better time.
Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law