A recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) found that approximately 6,227 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2018. That represents a 4 percent increase from 2017 and the highest pedestrian fatality rate since 1990. Overall, traffic fatalities have been trending downward, but deaths among pedestrians have grown by 35 percent since 2008.
“The alarm bells continue to sound on this issue; it’s clear we need to fortify our collective efforts to protect pedestrians and reverse the trend,” said the executive director of the group, which represents highway and safety offices from across the nation.
Darkness, distractions, drinking and the SUV craze could be to blame
There’s strong evidence that the increasing number of SUVs and light trucks on the road is partly to blame for the growth in pedestrian fatalities. For one thing, when one of these vehicles strikes a pedestrian, the pedestrian is more likely to die than when struck by an ordinary car. That’s simple physics, as SUVs and pickups are so much larger and heavier than cars.
More than that, however, the GHSA noted that the number of SUVs involved in pedestrian fatalities has jumped by 50 percent since 2013. Over the same period, ordinary passenger cars were involved in pedestrian deaths 30 percent less often than before, although still accounting for the majority of such crashes.
Another factor in pedestrian deaths is darkness. The GHSA found that the majority of pedestrian fatalities occur after dark, and that those occurring after dark are rising. Between 2008 and 2017, for example, nighttime pedestrian deaths increased by 45 percent, while daytime pedestrian deaths only rose by 11 percent.
As you might expect, driver distraction is a major contributor to fatal accidents involving pedestrians. Distracted driving has always been a problem, but never more than since the smartphone arrived on the scene.
Drunk driving also contributes to the toll. In 2017, about half of fatal pedestrian accidents involved either a driver or the pedestrian (or both) being impaired by alcohol.
The GHSA also notes that population growth and an increase in pedestrian activity have something to do with the increase in pedestrian deaths. During the first six months of 2018, the 10 states with the greatest population growth experienced 5 percent more pedestrian deaths than they had in the same period of 2017. Moreover, about 4 percent more Americans were walking to work in 2016 than in 2007.
If you’ve been involved, or lost a loved one, in a pedestrian accident, statistical causes don’t mean very much. What you need to know is what happened in your case. Get answers by having your case evaluated by a personal injury attorney.