A “Crisis” in Pedestrian Safety: U.S. Records the Highest Number of Pedestrian Fatalities in 41 Years Banner

Pedestrians have never been at greater risk of serious injury – and a 2023 study from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) makes that point clear.

Last year, the U.S. witnessed the highest number of pedestrian fatalities since 1981, totaling 7,508 fatalities due to vehicular accidents, according to the GHSA. This alarming rise in pedestrian deaths – a 77% spike since 2010 – equals about 20 pedestrians being killed daily.

The GHSA highlighted several factors contributing to this escalating crisis. These include:

  • Pandemic-induced reckless driving
  • Increased sales of larger vehicles
  • A growing population in suburbs with poor pedestrian infrastructures.

Let’s take a closer look at all three factors.

Pandemic Driving Practices

The COVID-19 pandemic saw a surge in reckless driving habits like speeding and texting while driving. In 2021, speeding was involved in 8% of pedestrian deaths, a notable increase from the 6-7% pre-pandemic. The escalating prevalence of smartphone use is also suspected to contribute to the crisis, as distraction-induced accidents are increasingly common.

The Popularity of Larger Vehicles

Larger vehicles, such as SUVs, have become more prevalent on our roads, constituting 57% of vehicles manufactured by 2022. These larger vehicles pose a higher fatality risk due to their height, striking pedestrians at the torso level during a collision. Despite the introduction of crash-prevention technology, the lag in fleet turnover means the benefits of such technology are yet to be fully realized.

Poorly Designed Suburban Roads

Suburban arterial roads, typically designed without pedestrians in mind, have become death traps. The GHSA report shows that around 60% of pedestrian fatalities in 2021 were on arterial roads. The absence of sidewalks on these roads and inadequate crosswalks increases the risk for pedestrians, particularly for lower-income individuals who have moved to suburbs due to rising living costs in cities and rely on walking for transportation.

The report also highlighted racial disparity, with historically redlined communities experiencing higher rates of pedestrian fatalities, reflecting a history of underinvestment in these neighborhoods.

This escalating pedestrian safety crisis calls for immediate action, including stricter enforcement of traffic regulations, implementing advanced vehicle technologies, and creating safer pedestrian infrastructures.

The Takeaway

With pedestrian fatalities reaching a 41-year high in the U.S., it’s crucial to take steps to protect everyone who uses roads and sidewalks. This includes safer driving practices, effective use of technology, and an overhaul of pedestrian infrastructure in urban/suburban areas.

The legal system also plays a key role in protecting those who have been victimized. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a pedestrian accident, it’s essential to consult with a skilled attorney to understand your rights – and ensure justice is served.

At Brickley Law, we’re here to fight for your legal rights, and to ensure you are fairly compensated for any losses you’ve suffered.

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