Pedestrian fatalities reached a 28-year high of 6,283 deaths in 2018, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This country’s road infrastructure and car culture have created dangerous conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists which increased the risks of this personal injury, according to the recent book Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America.
SUVs pose a greater risk of causing fatalities. This problem has grown with rising sales over the last few years. SUVs cause approximately 110 deaths per 1,000 pedestrian crashes compared to 45 deaths attributed to sedans.
SUVs are more likely to hit pedestrians in the torso where vital organs are located. Cars are more likely to collide with a pedestrian’s legs.
Many police departments do not have standard reporting mechanisms concerning cell phone distractions. However, cell phone use while driving is widespread. Smartphone owners handle their devices during 88 percent of trips which averages 3.5 minutes per hour, according to Zendrive tracking data.
Sixty-five percent of pedestrians are struck by a vehicle going at least 40 mph. But the risk of death is less than five percent of pedestrians for vehicles traveling below 20 mph. Lower speed limits, speed cameras, and improved road design could improve this.
Black, Hispanic, and Native American pedestrians have a greater risk for being killed in accidents according to this book. People of color are more likely to walk or use mass transit which requires walking to transit stops. Pedestrians in these groups walk in areas with more dangerous conditions such as streets with higher speeds and more lanes to cross.
Improvements in Detroit, where four in five of its residents are Black, showed how this toll could be reduced. It was the deadliest place for pedestrians in this country and 40 percent of its streetlights were malfunctioning before it filed for bankruptcy in 2013. After replacing all its streetlights, however, this death rate dropped by 40 percent in two years.
But numerous studies found that drivers do not stop for pedestrians who are trying to cross intersections with no traffic signals or stop signs. Shockingly, they are more like to stop for white than black pedestrians.
Lights are programmed so that pedestrians to cross at a pace of 3.5 feet per second. But the AARP reported that may older Americans walk closer to three feet per second.
Suburban arterial roads are also dangerous. These are wide and high-speed roads with lots of commercial and residential designations.
These accidents can cause serious and costly injuries. Attorneys can assist victims and their families seek compensation for their losses.