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Pedestrian Accidents and Fatalities Continue to Rise

The streets and highways are becoming more and more dangerous for pedestrians. While vehicles have incorporated better and more sophisticated safety technology, the rate of pedestrian deaths due to vehicle accidents is on the rise. In fact, the rate of pedestrian deaths is the highest it has been in almost three decades. As many as 15% of all traffic fatalities involve pedestrians, according to data in a preliminary report provided by the Governors Highway Safety Association.

GHSA Pedestrian Accident Statistics

The Governors Highway Safety Association is comprised of members from all 50 states and Washington DC. The latest report they released provides preliminary data on pedestrian accidents across the country. In 2018 there were 6,227 pedestrians killed on roadways. Pedestrian deaths increased by 35% between 2008 and 2017, while other types of traffic deaths actually decreased over that same time period.

Most pedestrian deaths occurred on local streets and the majority of accidents involved SUVs rather than passenger vehicles. About 75% of pedestrian deaths occurred when it was dark outside and most happened at areas other than intersections. Not surprisingly, most pedestrian fatalities occur in cities rather than rural areas.

What Causes Pedestrian Accidents?

The report cites two major factors that may be responsible for causing pedestrian accidents. Distraction due to cell phone use is a problem for both drivers and those on foot. The use of cell phones has increased dramatically over the last 10 years at a similar rate to the increase in pedestrian fatalities. For drivers, distracted driving includes three main areas, including taking your hands off the wheel, taking your eyes off the road, and taking your focus off of driving. Cell phone use includes all three types of distractions.

The increased use of SUVs over standard passenger vehicles may also play a role in the increase in pedestrian deaths. SUVs are larger and heavier than regular cars and have blind spots that can make it more difficult to see pedestrians. When an SUV strikes a pedestrian, the injuries are more likely to be serious or deadly. Driver alcohol impairment was also found to be a factor in a number of pedestrian accidents.

Preventing Pedestrian Accidents

A number of safety program efforts are in place to educate drivers and pedestrians about safety on our roads. In Wisconsin, the Bureau of Transportation Safety (BOTS) provides a variety of safety programs to address pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

These programs are offered through the State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Specifically, “Designing for Pedestrian Safety” classes provide resources and information helpful to engineers and planners to improve road safety for pedestrians. They also offer “Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety Law Enforcement” training classes.

Wisconsin received pedestrian and bicycle high visibility enforcement grants designed to provide overtime pay to police officers to conduct high visibility enforcement (HVE) in an effort to reduce accidents. Both drivers and pedestrians should remain more attentive while they are driving or walking.

If you or a loved one were seriously hurt in a pedestrian accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. Contact our legal team at Moen, Sheehan, Meyer, Ltd. to discuss the details of your accident today.

Published March 27, 2019
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