Recent figures from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) are deeply troubling. It’s currently estimated that more than 7,500 U.S. pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in 2022, which is the highest number of pedestrian deaths recorded since 1981.
In general, despite all of the safety measures in place and campaigns to improve awareness of the issue, the upward trend for pedestrian deaths has been steady since 2010. Why is this happening? There’s no easy answer, but a number of factors probably contribute to this reality.
It’s probably not a coincidence that smartphones came into being around the same time pedestrian accidents started to rise. The first iPhone came out in 2007, and the Android soon followed. Drivers seem to have a difficult time putting their phones down even when they’re in motion. Texting, checking social media, streaming for TikTok and more can pull a driver’s attention away from the road at critical moments with dire consequences for those on foot.
Inadequate pedestrian infrastructure
As urban areas continue to grow, more people are living in cities. Urban planning and infrastructure development have not always kept pace with this rapid growth, leading to dangerous intersections and pedestrian-unfriendly road designs. There are simply more opportunities for pedestrian-vehicle collisions.
Excessive speed and aggressive driving behaviors pose significant risks to pedestrians. Speeding reduces a driver’s reaction time and increases the severity of accidents. During 2020 and 2021, the shift toward remote work created empty streets that were far too tempting for a lot of reckless drivers. While traffic levels may have returned to normal since then, some drivers still won’t slow down.
People love their SUVs, but SUVs are far heavier and taller than the typical passenger vehicle. When an SUV hits a pedestrian, the force of the impact is much greater. That makes for more serious injuries and a greater likelihood that someone will be killed.
While government officials continue to work on this problem and explore potential solutions, pedestrians simply need to be aware of what’s happening and what they can do to minimize their risk of being hurt when traveling. It is additionally important to keep in mind that if you’re hurt by a careless driver or your loved one is killed in a pedestrian-motor vehicle accident, exploring your legal options can help you to seek justice.