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The United States Is in the Midst of a Pedestrian Safety Crisis

broken pair of glasses on the road next to a car

Even with half a year of mostly empty streets, pedestrian deaths did not decrease. Instead, preliminary statistics from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) showed a 20% increase in the rate of pedestrian fatalities. While cars drove fewer miles, the number of deaths went up. In 2019, a total of 6,205 pedestrians died, and in 2020, the GHSA estimates 6,721 deaths. Data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows that pedestrian fatalities have been on the rise since 2013, and based on statistics, the pedestrian safety crisis is far from over.

What Is Causing the Increase in Pedestrian Fatalities?

Car crashes are safer than ever for the occupants of passenger vehicles, but they may be more dangerous for pedestrians. Not only are there more cars on the road, but drivers may be lulled into a false sense of safety and drive less carefully as a result.

Vehicle Design

According to USA Today’s investigative report, “Death on foot: America's love of SUVs is killing pedestrians,” the rise in pedestrian deaths is the result of more large trucks and SUVs on the road. Due to their higher front-end profiles and ability to jump curbs more easily, SUVs are at least twice as likely to kill the pedestrians they hit.

The SUV plague is especially problematic in urban areas with high population densities, where large vehicles frequently cross paths with walkers, joggers, and children. This is especially true in low-income communities where children may not have parks to play in and residents do not have safe places for walking, jogging, and outdoor recreation.

Cars are getting bigger, and thus, more dangerous for pedestrians. Although federal agencies are working hard to improve vehicle safety, pedestrian safety is not part of today’s vehicle safety ratings. Companies like Ford and Fiat Chrysler are selling primarily pickups and SUVs, but at the same time, some automakers are opposing pedestrian safety reform.

Risky Driving Behaviors

USA Today also cites distracted driving, speeding, and driving under the influence as leading causes of pedestrian fatalities, and NPR agrees. During the COVID-19 pandemic, risky driving behaviors went up, and so did United States traffic deaths – by 7%. Emboldened by less-congested roads, many drivers went too fast, failed to wear their seatbelts, or drove while impaired by drugs or alcohol. When drivers are impaired, they may not see pedestrians, and at high speeds, pedestrian accidents are more likely – and more severe for pedestrians.

Most fatal pedestrian accidents occur in urban areas, at non-intersection locations, and at night.

Have You Lost a Loved One to Dangerous Driving?

You and your loved ones are more than statistics. If you have lost a spouse, child, or family member to a fatal pedestrian accident, know that you are not alone. The Law Offices of Charles R. Gueli is here to help you find justice.

Drivers owe all pedestrians a duty of care. Whether a drunk driver hopped the curb and struck your loved one, a distracted driver turned at the wrong time, or a driver sped through a crosswalk, the at-fault party should be held accountable for your loss. While nothing will change what happened, legal action can help provide you and your family with closure, and compensation can give you the resources you need to grieve and move forward.

Discuss your rights and legal options with our compassionate legal team. We are here for you 24/7 at (516) 628-6402 and online, so don’t hesitate to call or click today!

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