Although statistics may eventually show that fatal pedestrian accidents have decreased during the pandemic due to fewer people driving on America’s roads, prior to that, these deaths had been increasing. As of now, however, it is forecasted that pedestrian fatalities will continue according to a recent U.S. News World & Report article.
The Governors Highway Safety Association (“GHSA”) determined that, based on data from the first six months of 2019, there were approximately 6,590 pedestrian deaths last year. This number is a five percent increase over the prior year’s pedestrian fatalities of 6,227. The amount of pedestrian accident-related deaths in 2019 is the highest in more than three decades, according to the GHSA. Moreover, the GHSA’s executive director reported that the number of pedestrian fatalities on America’s roads has increased by 50% in the past decade.
Based on the 2019 figures, pedestrian deaths will account for 17% of all traffic accident-related deaths that year; in 2009 the percentage of pedestrian deaths in relation to all traffic fatalities was 12%. Notably, although the increase in pedestrian deaths over the past 10 years has been significant, the rise in all other traffic deaths was only 2%.
Research further shows that pedestrians who are struck by an SUV are twice as likely to die from the impact than those who are hit with a passenger vehicle. Although passenger vehicles are the largest category of cars involving pedestrian accident-related deaths, fatalities involving SUVs increased at 81% while those involving passenger cars increased by 53%.
There are several factors that contribute to the increase in pedestrian deaths over the past decade.
According to studies, most pedestrian deaths happen on local roads, in the evenings, and away from intersections. These factors suggest that there is a general need for safer road crossings as well as making both vehicles and pedestrians more visible. Indeed, in the past decade the number of nighttime pedestrian fatalities increased by nearly 70%; daytime pedestrian accident-related deaths increased by 16% during the same time period.
Other contributors to pedestrian deaths include dangerous driving behaviors. Distracted driving, speeding, drowsy driving, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol all have caused pedestrian fatalities. In fact, the GHSA notes that nearly half of pedestrian-accident related deaths in 2018 involved impairment on the part of the driver and/or the pedestrian.
For more information on pedestrian safety, visit the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (“NHTSA”) website.
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