Why Are Pedestrian Deaths at a 30-Year High?
Across America in 2018, 6,227 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents. This is the highest number in three decades, according to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association. The report revealed many of the pedestrian fatalities happened in major cities such as Miami and Houston.
The dangers to pedestrians are quite clear in big American cities: long stretches of busy roads with no crosswalks, and people having to walk on roads that are designed for rush hour traffic. But experts say there is an even bigger reason for more pedestrians being hit and killed by cars: Both drivers and pedestrians are being more distracted by their cell phones. Also, there are many more larger vehicles on the road.
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It is not merely major cities where pedestrians face increasing dangers from road traffic. Macon, Georgia is a small city of 110,000, and one in every 8,000 people died in a pedestrian/vehicle accident in 2018.
Georgia Has One of Highest Pedestrian Death Rates
One man who died was Amos Harris, 62, in 2014. His friend Violet Poe told the media recently that Harris was walking between traffic cones and the curb of a large, five land freeway. He was walking after dark and was looking for a relative. He crossed a road at a blinking light and was hit by a car, with his body flying 100 feet.
Georgia is one of five US states that make up almost 50% of the pedestrian deaths in the US in 2018. Others were Florida, Texas, Arizona and California. In the latter state, 432 pedestrians died in only the first six months of 2018. Several of those states also have had large population increases, which is a factor in the rising number of deaths.
US Roads Designed for Cars, Not People
Some experts maintain that population growth, like crossing where there is no crosswalk, are not the major reasons for the growing problem. Tom Ellington, the chair of the Pedestrian Safety Review Board in Macon, argues blaming jaywalkers is ignoring the larger issues. He said the transportation system has been built for decades to move more cars, and not pedestrians.
In Macon, many roads are also state highways. This is one type of road where pedestrian deaths are very common. Many people in Macon do not have their own cars and must rely on bikes or their feet to get around town. This makes them much more vulnerable to being hit on roads that are been traveled by heavy rush hour traffic. Many big rigs also use these state highways to avoid crowded interstates, leading to more dangers for pedestrians.
Some Macon roads have two-mile gaps between crosswalks. While telling pedestrians to use crosswalks is good advice, it often is unrealistic. Even if there is a crosswalk, it is often too far away. Research indicates most people will walk just 300 feet to a crosswalk. If it is much more than that, they will cross without a crosswalk.
Increased Cell Phone Use and More SUVs Also Major Factors
The author of the Governors Highway Safety Association Report, Richard Retting, noted there is more driver and pedestrian distraction due to smartphone use, as well as the higher numbers of big, heavy SUVs on American roads.
Retting said pedestrians hit by SUVs are much more likely to die due to their much heavier weight. A full-size SUV can weigh 6,000 pounds, while a typical sedan may weigh 3,500 pounds.
Smartphones are another big problem. Both drivers and pedestrians use cell phone data 4,000% more than in 2008. This means both are not watching the roads as much as they used to. Retting wants to see autonomous pedestrian sensors on vehicles, but the technology is still expensive and not common. It won’t be on most vehicles soon because most auto on the roads today are 10 years old.
If you were injured in a pedestrian accident or lost a loved one in such a tragic situation, make sure you reach out to a qualified personal injury attorney in your state. Please use our website as a resource to assist you in your search for a good personal injury attorney.