Pedestrian Deaths Continue to Increase in the United States

Published on March 10th, 2020

pedestrian crash fatalities accidents thurswell lawA new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) projects that 6,590 people died on or along United States roadways in 2019. That total is the highest yearly number since 1988 and 5% higher than the number of pedestrians who died in 2018. Roads aren’t safe for pedestrians. The big question is: Why?

SUVs a Threat to Pedestrians

In a span of 10 years (from 2009 to 2019), 57,897 pedestrians have lost their lives. Even though safety for vehicle occupants has improved over recent years, pedestrian fatalities represent an increasing percentage of total deaths in car crashes.

“Each year, thousands of additional people are dying in pedestrian crashes compared to a decade ago,” says the author of the GHSA report, Richard Retting. “Following 30 years of declining pedestrian fatalities, there has been a complete reversal of progress. Pedestrians are at an inherent disadvantage in collisions, and we must continue to take a broad approach to pedestrian safety.”

The GHSA report echoes and builds upon the findings of a Detroit Free Press and USA TODAY investigation conducted in 2018, which found that consumers’ transition from passenger cars to SUVs and trucks played a significant role in pedestrian harm. Vehicles that are large, blunt, and sit up higher are far more likely to kill a pedestrian in a crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) made this connection as early as 2015, stating that “pedestrians are two to three times more likely to suffer a fatality when struck by an SUV or pickup than when struck by a passenger car.” Children, in particular, are at an even higher risk.

Now, the question is, what can be done about it?

Causes of Pedestrian Crashes

While SUVs aren’t going anywhere anytime soon and neither are pedestrians, its important to identify what is increasing the likelihood of collision at all. The GHSA report and other studies place blame in multiple possible areas:

  • Nighttime walking. It’s hard for drivers to see pedestrians and pedestrians aren’t using reflective clothing or staying in well-lit areas to be easily seen. Plus, both parties continue to use their phones.
  • Warm temperatures. As winter fades away, spring brings more people out at all hours of the day and night, especially children.
  • Alcohol. Drunk driving has always been a problem and continues to be a major factor in many car crashes. Pedestrians are also guilty of drunk walking.
  • Distraction. Smartphones are the biggest culprit in distraction, for both drivers and pedestrians.

Solutions to Prevent Pedestrian Fatalities

There are many suggestions to help reduce pedestrian fatalities, including:

  • Better enforcement of driving violations, like distracted driving and speeding in particular
  • Improved pedestrian infrastructure, like more mid-block crossings and better delineated crosswalks
  • Improved auto safety technology, like automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and vehicle designs that limit injuries to pedestrians

If you have been involved in a car crash or pedestrian accident, contact the Michigan personal injury attorneys at Thurswell Law to get the compensation you deserve. Schedule a consultation by calling (248) 354-2222 today. We do not charge any fees until we win.

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