A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study reveals that an average of 17 pedestrians were killed every day in traffic accidents in 2018, making it the deadliest year for pedestrians since 1990. Thousands of pedestrians were killed and many more injured in traffic crashes across the nation, a disturbing 3.4 percent increase when other traffic related fatalities are down.
Researches believe there are a number of factors at work from distracted or impaired driving to just the fact that more people are choosing to walk instead of drive out of necessity or perhaps for health reasons. Whether it is because there are more reckless drivers on the road or just more pedestrians, the increase in fatalities is disturbing and many are calling for solutions.
City leaders are being pushed to lower speed limits, improve traffic crossings, and open more pedestrian only public spaces in an effort to protect vulnerable walkers. This is particularly needed in cramped urban areas where a large number of pedestrian accidents occur. Law enforcement has also been tapped to clamp down on distracted and impaired driving with more people admitting to texting while driving and the continued problem of impaired driving that poses a risk to everyone.
Perhaps most importantly, is getting the point across to drivers to operate safely with pedestrians in mind. Adjusting speed for conditions such as school zones or other heavy foot traffic areas is always good practice regardless of the posted speed limits, as is slowing in inclement weather. Exercising extra caution when turning at intersections or into parking lots or driveways can minimize the risk to pedestrians, especially for kids who don’t always look or have experience navigating around cars. It goes without saying that texting while driving or driving impaired poses a real risk not only to other drivers but particularly to pedestrians who have zero protection in a collision. Waiting to view a text message until you pull over or using a rideshare app when out on the town can save lives.
The increase in pedestrian traffic fatalities as overall traffic related deaths drop should signal that improvements to infrastructure and traffic signs are needed as well as increased law enforcement efforts to put the kibosh on distracted and impaired driving. Rethinking personal driving habits are crucial in order to reduce fatal accidents.
McDonald, Woodward & Carlson, P.C.’s pedestrian accident attorneys serve clients throughout the Quad Cities area.
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