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Pedestrians in Greatest Danger in Decades

By Renee Nordstrand on January 22, 2018

For the second year in a row, pedestrian deaths have increased in America.

Pedestrians in Southern California share the roads with bicyclists, motorcycles, and cars, but lack protection from the tremendous damage these vehicles can cause. As drivers become more careless—usually due to mobile devices—pedestrian are in greater danger of being injured or killed.

Pedestrian Death Statistics

In 2016, traffic fatalities overall increased by 5.6%. This comes after they already rose 8.4% in 2015. This back-to-back explosion of traffic deaths is the largest increase that has been seen in the U.S. in more than five decades.

In 2016, there were more than 37,000 total deaths due to motor vehicle accidents. Nearly 6,000 were pedestrians. This is a 9% increase from the previous year. Since 2014, the steady progress in reducing the number of people killed on the road each year has been undone.

Why Have Deaths Increased?

A few different things have contributed to this increase in pedestrian deaths, including the fact that more people are driving due to lower gas prices. But distraction is a major cause that didn’t exist to this degree decades before. It’s not just the drivers. Pedestrians, too, are walking everywhere with their heads tucked down, staring at their phone screens. “After speeding and the failure to yield, distractions are the number three cause [of pedestrian deaths], particularly by electronic devices,” said Melody Geraci of Active Transportation Alliance.

When drivers speed around populated areas, especially those with foot traffic, that’s a recipe for disaster. “Speed is a killer for sure,” said Geraci. “If a pedestrian is struck at 20 miles an hour, they have a 10% chance of dying. If they are struck at 40 miles an hour, they have an 80% chance of dying.”

Another danger that never really goes away is drunk driving. Fifteen percent of pedestrians killed each year are hit by drunk drivers. Also, statistics found that 74% of pedestrian fatalities happen at night, and 72% of those killed were not crossing at intersections.

What Can Drivers Do to Keep People Safe?

In California, our state actually reported an 11.4% decrease in pedestrian fatalities from 2015 to 2016. But don’t be fooled—out of the 50 states, California still had the most pedestrian deaths in 2016, topping the list with 359. (The second-most was Texas, with 322.)

Defensive driving is the best way to keep these tragic accidents from happening. This means:

  • Eliminating distractions.
  • Not driving drowsy.
  • Never touching drugs or alcohol before getting behind the wheel.
  • Giving pedestrians the right of way every time. Even if they’re wrong, you don’t want to hit them.

One of the simplest ways to drive safer is to slow down: this gives you more time to react to your surroundings and avoid pedestrians.

Although pedestrians have responsibilities, drivers bear the brunt of blame when they hit a pedestrian. If you have been injured by a driver while walking, call NordstrandBlack PC at (805) 962-2022 for a free consultation. Our injury attorneys will review your case and see how we can help.

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