October is National Pedestrian Safety Month, and judging by the most recent numbers reported nationwide, it is a greatly needed campaign.
One of the most alarming statistics involving traffic fatalities is the drastic increase in pedestrian deaths in the United States. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) recently released some shocking data that shows that in the past 10 years, pedestrian fatalities have increased by over 50%.
The report states that, along with identifying high-risk areas and allocating more resources to fix problem roadways and traffic devices, states need to work with local law enforcement officials to “address the chronic driver violations that contribute to pedestrian crashes.”
Personal injury trial attorney Michael Noone has handled many cases involving car versus pedestrian crashes in Southwest Florida, and sees the increase of pedestrian deaths as a concerning trend. “A person on foot can lose their life by being struck by a car that is travelling at just 15 or 20 miles per hour,” Noone points out. “These types of crashes can also result in severe head and brain injuries because unlike bicyclists, pedestrians aren't wearing any kind of helmet or head protection.”
The research also found that just 5 states – California, Arizona, Texas, Georgia, and Florida – comprised a shocking 47% of all U.S. traffic fatalities, despite accounting for just 33% of the country's population.
Florida recorded 368 pedestrian deaths in the first 6 months of 2019, 9 more than for the same period in 2018. Most pedestrian fatalities happen at night and away from an intersection, which indicates a greater need for improved road lighting and pedestrian visibility.
The Causes of Crashes Involving a Pedestrian
Just like accidents involving more than one motor vehicle, those where a car hits a pedestrian can be caused by several factors. Driving under the influence, or crashes involving a pedestrian who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, are major causes of pedestrian fatalities. Those types of crashes account for nearly 50% of those that resulted in a pedestrian death reported in 2018.
Other dangerous driving like speeding, driving while distracted and driving while you're tired are also cited as reasons for the uptick in pedestrian fatalities. Another interesting fact is that the number of pedestrians struck by an SUV as opposed to a standard passenger vehicle shot up an astounding 81% over the last 10 years, which may be because that style of vehicle has become much more popular in the U.S.
Another street safety organization, the National Complete Streets Coalition, also has done studies on pedestrian fatalities, and feels that Florida is a prime example of how poor road design contributes to the increasing number of deaths. They claim that street designs now are often wider, with longer blocks utilizing fewer lights and crosswalks. This leads to higher driving speeds, making it more difficult for someone on foot to safely cross the road.
The GHSA report also says the rate of pedestrian fatalities had been on the decline for the past 30 years, but now there has been a “complete reversal of progress.”
How to Stay Safe and Reduce Your Risk of Being Struck by a Car
There are several things pedestrians can do to reduce their risk of being injured by a collision with a motor vehicle:
- Use sidewalks whenever possible, do not walk on the edge of the roadway
- Always walk facing oncoming traffic whenever possible
- If you need to cross and there is no crosswalk, try to find a streetlight where you also have a clear view of oncoming traffic
- When there is an intersection and you're crossing the street, always watch for cars coming from all directions, even those making a turn
- Never try to “make it across” in a hurry – wait until there is an adequate opening in the traffic flow
- Always try to make eye contact with drivers of oncoming cars – never assume they see you
- Try to make yourself as visible as possible, like wearing reflective clothing or carrying a flashlight at night
- Keep your eyes on cars trying to enter the road from a driveway or parking lot
- Walking while impaired can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence, and you may not be able to react as quickly or anticipate a pending crash
Pedestrian accident attorney Noone says using common sense can go a long way in preventing serious or even fatal interactions with cars while you're on foot. “The aftermath of a pedestrian being hit by a car can be truly devastating, especially those involving a large SUV type of vehicle,” he says. “Patience is critical in trying to cross a road, and you should slow down and do your best to make sure there are no oncoming cars.”
Goldberg Noone Abraham's legal team knows how to fight for justice on behalf of those pedestrians who have been seriously injured or lost their life when struck by the driver of a car. We've been helping crash victims for more then 20 years through aggressive legal representation and expert skills. Personal injury law is not a part of what we do – it is ALL we do. It never costs you a thing to speak with us, and our fees are derived on a contingency basis from your successful settlement or jury verdict, so you never pay anything out of pocket when you hire us and we're successful on your behalf.
Call us at 239-461-5508, or just fill out this contact form to get in touch. We're happy to provide the answers you'll need following any kind of injury caused by someone else's negligence or carelessness.