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What Should We Do About America's Pedestrian Safety Crisis?

What Should We Do About America's Pedestrian Safety Crisis?

When it comes to the safety of pedestrians, America isn’t making much progress. In fact, people on foot account for the steady rise of overall traffic fatalities across the country. In this blog, we break down the latest statistics about pedestrian safety in the United States.

According to a new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), nearly 6,000 people were struck and killed while walking in the U.S during 2017. For the second year in a row, the fatality rate among pedestrians stayed at about 25% higher than it where it was just a few years prior.

With the exception of an increase in the amount of overall driving mileage, there are few solid explanations about the factors that are causing pedestrian accidents to increase so significantly. The data collected by GHSA suggests that distracted drivers and those impaired by marijuana may be playing a role in the increase. However, the evidence for these reasons are anecdotal at best, due to their lack of scientific rigor.

Because pedestrian deaths are primarily concentrated in dense urban areas, city governments are in a prime position to enact change. In the United States’ 10 biggest cities, pedestrian fatalities increased by 28% during 2016. In the city of Los Angeles alone, fatalities among pedestrians rose by 45%. GHSA suggests that states and local governments focus on the following areas to help reduce pedestrian fatalities.

Separating Pedestrians from Motor Vehicles

To the surprise of many, basic pedestrian infrastructure like sidewalks are scarce in many cities across the country. Adding more median pedestrian islands can help to make crossing the street safer and will protect people on foot from being hit by turning drivers. GHSA also recommends better timing for traffic signals to allow pedestrians more time to cross streets without having to worry about interference from drivers making turns.

Increased Visibility

Three-quarters of pedestrian deaths happen at night when their visibility is greatly reduced. GHSA has suggested investing in better street lighting, more high-visibility crosswalks, and flashing beacons at crosswalks to help make people on foot be more visible to drivers on the road.

Reducing Lethal Motor Speeds

Driving at fast speeds increases the risk of hitting pedestrians and also increases the likelihood of severe injuries during an accident. According to GHSA, redesigning roads with bike lanes, speed bumps, narrower rights-of-way for cars, and automated speed enforcement can help to reduce lethal driving speeds.

Have you suffered a severe injury as a pedestrian? Contact our Greenville team of personal injury lawyers to schedule your free consultation today.
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