Recent data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed that, in 2008, the total number of individuals killed in any type of wreck dropped over two percent from 2017, to 36,600. While this is a positive development, these numbers are not completely positive. During the same time period, the number of pedestrians and bicyclists killed in motor vehicle wrecks actually increased by over three percent, to 6, 283 pedestrians killed and over 850 bicyclists killed. The number of female bicyclists killed in wrecks had the largest jump – 29.2 percent – over 2017 numbers.
Why Fatal Crashes with Pedestrians and Bicyclists Occur
This increase in the number of pedestrians and bicyclists killed by drivers may be surprising, especially considering the advent of collision-avoidance technology in vehicles. However, this technology is not always effective and is less effective at night. Motorists who rely on this technology to alert them to and avoid a potential collision with a bicyclist or pedestrian may be less likely to be alert and actively scanning for others using the roadway.
Although NHTSA indicated that some of the pedestrians killed had alcohol in their systems at the time of their deaths, blaming pedestrian deaths or bicyclist deaths on the deceased does not fully address the many causes of these fatality accidents. The increased number of SUVs on the roadway, poor city planning and design, and distracted driving all are likely responsible in part for the rise in the number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths.
A Solution is Not Immediately Apparent
While there are technological advances and other practices that may help halt the rise in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities, a cure-all is not immediately apparent. Without changes in the behaviors and actions of motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians alike, coupled with improvements in technology, the road may continue to be a dangerous place for people after dark.
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