According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the United States has seen the number of pedestrian accident deaths increase by 46% from 2009 to 2016. The new study reveals that multiple factors have contributed to the number of pedestrian deaths, most of which take place at night on urban and suburban roadways. Additionally, the study found that a significant amount of pedestrian accident deaths have taken place away from intersections where pedestrians are typically able to cross the street using crosswalks. As such, factors including lack of light, busy roadways, and fewer crossings are key contributors to pedestrian accident deaths over the past decade.
The IIHS study documented 5,987 pedestrian deaths in vehicle-related crashes in 2016. The number of deaths accounted for 16% of all fatal crashes according to federal data. Of the nearly 6,000 pedestrian deaths in vehicle-related crashes in 2016, 4,453 of these accidents happened in the dark compared to 1,290 in daylight, and 205 at dawn or dusk. Moreover, the age group that saw the largest increase in pedestrian accident deaths was aged twenty (20) to sixty-nine (69).
While pedestrian deaths are certainly concerning, pedestrian accidents in general, whether fatal or non-fatal, are a significant problem that deserves attention. After all, pedestrians who survive accidents are still likely to suffer debilitating injuries that are often permanent. For example, if a person sustains a severe spinal cord injury, he or she may no longer have the ability to walk, may no longer be able to work, and may no longer be able to participate in the same enjoyable activities he or she participated in before the accident.
Why are Pedestrian Accident Deaths on the Rise in the United States?
The IIHS study identifies various reasons why pedestrian accident deaths are on the rise across the United States. Such reasons include the following:
- The improved economy, which allows more people to purchase cars, therefore increasing the number of vehicles on the roadways;
- Increase in the number of SUVs, pickup trucks, and other high-horsepower vehicles on the roadway (such larger vehicles are more popular now than they used to be, and the impact between a large and powerful car and a pedestrian can be catastrophic);
- The increase in population in the United States;
- Increase in the number of pedestrians walking along and across roadways, which also goes along with an increase in population (primarily seen in urban and suburban environments);
- A lack of crosswalks designated for pedestrians;
- Increase in the number of pedestrians choosing to cross the street where intersections are not available; and
- Increasing speed limits across the United States.
Overall, the above-listed factors all demonstrate that the number of both drivers and pedestrians on our roadways has significantly increased over the past decade. Therefore, steps should be taken to reduce the impact that these factors have on the prevalence of pedestrian accident deaths in the United States.
IIHS Suggestions for Reducing the Number of Deadly Pedestrian Accidents
The IIHS has made a few suggestions for reducing the number of fatal pedestrian accidents which will hopefully help to diminish the number of pedestrian accidents in general, whether fatal or non-fatal. Such suggestions include, but may not be limited to, the following:
- Reduced speed limit;
- Better enforcement of speed limits;
- The addition of crosswalks at non-intersections to allow pedestrians to cross safely when no intersections are nearby;
- Changes to the front-end design of vehicles that may lessen the severity of impact with a pedestrian;
- Driver awareness and efforts to share the road with pedestrians;
- An increase in the number of sidewalks available to pedestrians;
- Pedestrian awareness and tips for safely walking nearby and across streets at night; and
- Other technological advances in vehicles that can help alert drivers to nearby pedestrians.
At this time, there are some car manufacturers, such as Subaru, that have created what is called a “pedestrian detection system” which has shown to lower claim rates for injuries by 35%, unlike vehicles that do not have a pedestrian detection system. Therefore, advances in technology can certainly help to reduce the number of fatal pedestrian accidents across the United States. Additionally, although not mentioned in the IIHS study, distracted driving is certainly a problem that contributes to all traffic accidents, including pedestrian accidents. However, as auto manufacturers implement systems, such as “CarPlay,” which allow drivers to talk to text as opposed to looking at their phones and typing texts while driving, drivers will learn to drive without the need to look at their phone.
Injuries Associated with Pedestrian Accidents
While fatal pedestrian accidents are tragic, non-fatal pedestrian accidents can be life-changing when victims suffer injuries that are often permanent. Common injuries associated with pedestrian accidents include, among others, the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) (ranging from concussions to brain death);
- Spinal cord injuries (some resulting in paralysis);
- Fractured bones;
- Whiplash and other neck injuries;
- Soft tissue injuries, such as large open wounds, and torn muscles or tendons;
- Internal organ damage; and
- Internal bleeding.
Most pedestrian accident injuries will likely require emergency surgical intervention. Pedestrians cannot protect themselves in the event they are struck by a vehicle, especially an SUV or truck. As such, any impact can lead to life-altering injuries that may require medical treatment for months, years, or even indefinitely, especially if the injuries are permanent.
Why it is a Good Idea to Work Alongside a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
Because every accident is different, pedestrian accidents can be complicated to investigate. For example, one pedestrian accident may involve a drunk driver while another pedestrian accident may involve a driver who was speeding at night. A thorough investigation is necessary to put the pieces back together one by one. Determining fault in a pedestrian accident case is not always easy even if the cause of the accident seems obvious. As such, working alongside a pedestrian accident lawyer is the best thing to do to find out whether a driver is to blame for causing a pedestrian accident.
Given that insurance companies will likely be involved in the evaluation and investigation of a pedestrian accident, working alongside an attorney can help to streamline the process, and to ensure an insurance company does not take advantage of an injured person. Additionally, injured or deceased pedestrians may not own a vehicle or home and therefore may not have insurance. In such scenarios, it is critically important to work with an attorney. Moreover, working with insurance companies can be complicated, and it is easy to make mistakes or misinterpret information. An attorney can ensure that an injured victim understands the entire process and is receiving compensation and medical treatment in accordance with an insurance policy.
Contact a Pedestrian Accident Lawsuit Lawyer Today to Schedule Your Free Consultation
If you have sustained injuries in a pedestrian accident, it may be time to speak with a legal professional to discuss whether legal options are available to receive compensation. It is essential l to act quickly when considering legal action as time is limited to file a claim. The fatal pedestrian accident lawsuit attorneys of Parker Waichman LLP are recognized for their dedication to each and every client. To speak with a member of our team about your situation, contact Parker Waichman LLP today by calling (800) YOUR-LAWYER (968-7529) to schedule your free consultation.
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