Who is Responsible for the Increase in Pedestrian Deaths?

The number of fatal motor vehicle accidents in the United States has been increasing over the last few years.  So too has the number of pedestrians killed by cars and trucks.

Earlier this year the Governors Highway Safety Association, a nonprofit group of state safety offices throughout the country, projected that nearly 6,000 pedestrians will have died in motor vehicle accidents in 2017.  This estimate was based on the actual number of pedestrian deaths reported in the first half of 2017.  The accounting for the full year has yet to be released.

Number of Pedestrians Killed at 25-Year High

According to the organization, the projected number of pedestrians hit and killed by cars and trucks for 2017 will be essentially unchanged from 2016.  But 2016 continued a steady increase in the number of pedestrian deaths, going back to 2013.  If its 2017 estimates prove correct, the GHSA says the nation won’t have seen this many walkers die in motor vehicle accidents over a two-year period in more than a quarter of a century.

Missouri had one of the larger increases in pedestrian deaths between 2016 and 2017.  It finished at 12th highest of all 50 U.S. states, with a 22 percent increase in pedestrians killed in car accidents.

So what accounts for this steady rise in pedestrian deaths in Missouri and across the country?

Careless Drivers and Fatal Pedestrian Accidents

GHSA points to cell phone use as one leading reason.  More walkers focused on their mobile devices rather than oncoming traffic certainly are responsible for a portion of this increase.  But an ever-growing number of drivers distracted by their cell phone share the lion’s share of responsibility as well.

Due to an improving economy, there simply are more car and truck drivers on the road.  More vehicles only increase the chances for fatal accidents, including those involving pedestrians.

GHSA also cites a growing use of marijuana – as more states have legalized it for recreational purposes – as another possible factor in today’s elevated number of pedestrian deaths. As with alcohol, drivers under the influence of drugs are a leading cause of fatal car and truck crashes.

Speeding drivers are still another cause of pedestrians seriously injured or killed in motor vehicle accidents.  In response, GHSA calls for several measures designed to slow down drivers, including roundabouts and speed bumps.

With more than 75 percent of pedestrian deaths occurring at night, some are calling for improved headlight design in today’s cars; specifically headlights that swivel to better follow and illuminate twists in the road ahead.

The GHSA report notes that pedestrian deaths as a percentage of all motor vehicle accident deaths have also risen in recent years.  Cars that better protect passengers and limit their fatalities is one possible cause cited by GHSA.

It’s apparent that pedestrians may need better protections too – from careless drivers.

If you had a loved one who was walking or riding a bicycle when hit and killed by a driver, speak with an attorney who represents victims of car accidents.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Articles April 4, 2018.