Walking your dog or taking a stroll after dinner should not be a death sentence. Yet, more and more frequently, walking is becoming hazardous, and deadly, in America.
A recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association has revealed that pedestrian deaths last year reached their highest level since 1990. In fact, an estimated 6,227 pedestrians died in 2018, 35% more than were killed just a decade ago. And these rates are rising even as overall traffic deaths have declined over the last ten years. So, why is this happening?
Experts have pointed to several factors that seem to be contributing to this increase:
SUVs: The growing popularity of SUVs has been recognized as one cause. SUVs sales now outpace sedan sales in the US, and this is dangerous for pedestrians. SUVs are larger, heavier, and more powerful, have bigger blind spots, and longer stopping distances, all of which make a collision more likely. Moreover, when SUVs do hit a pedestrian, they are 2.5 to 3 times more likely to kill that person than a car, according to a recent report by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. This helps explain why pedestrian fatalities involving SUVs have increased 50% over the last five years, more than fatalities involving other cars.
Smart Phones: Distracted driving has become a huge issue around the country and smartphones are the biggest culprit. The GHSA report points to smartphone use — by drivers and pedestrians — as a big factor in pedestrian deaths. Driving distracted for only a moment can lead to a fatality if you hit a pedestrian walking along the road. Likewise, a pedestrian on their cell phone who steps in front of a moving car can be killed instantly.
More People are Walking and Other Factors: Of course, there are other factors involved in the rising pedestrian death rate, as well. For example, more people are walking to work than ever before. A survey showed that from 2006 to 2016 the number of people walking to work rose by 4%. In addition, walking at night is getting more dangerous. Nighttime fatalities are rising even faster than daytime fatalities, increasing 45% from 2008-2017. Finally, pedestrians or drivers being impaired by alcohol is also having an effect. In about 50% of pedestrian fatalities, either the driver or the pedestrian has elevated blood alcohol levels.
So what can you do?
- Keep your cell phone tucked away when you are driving or walking. No call or text is worth your life.
- Wear brightly colored or reflective garments while walking at night. It is hard for drivers to avoid you if they can’t see you.
- Never drink and drive, and avoid walking if you are even the least bit impaired.
- Be especially aware of cars and SUVs whenever you are walking or crossing the street. Do not assume they see you.
- And finally, if a loved one has been injured or killed by a vehicle while out walking, contact an experienced lawyer.
The car accident attorneys at The Collins Law Firm can help you preserve important evidence and fight for your rights against the person responsible. Call us today at 630-527-1595 for a free evaluation of your case.