With the major improvements made in automobile safety over the past few decades, the driver and the passenger are more protected now than they ever have been. The statistics of vehicle-related fatalities for those inside the vehicle during a car accident have steadily gotten lower. However, that is not the case for pedestrians. In fact, during the past decade, there has been an increase in pedestrian fatalities in 49 of the country’s 50 states, particularly during the past few years.
A recent study by Smart Growth America has revealed that pedestrian deaths have increased by an astonishing 45 percent between the years 2010 and 2019. This increase equates to over 53,000 pedestrians killed in that span, or 14 fatalities per day. Most of these deaths were older people and occurred more frequently in low-income communities; African American, Hispanic, American Indian, and Alaska Native people were among those who were most affected.
The study measured each state’s population and those who walk to work each day and the number of pedestrians who were struck and killed by a vehicle. This determined which state was the most dangerous to pedestrians. The states that made the list are mostly located in the South, but it does include other parts of the country as well:
- New Mexico
- South Carolina
Why is There an Increase in Pedestrian Deaths?
It is difficult to determine why there has been such a surprising increase in pedestrian deaths, considering improvements made over the years with national highway safety. Each state has different methods to protect pedestrians, such as mandatory sidewalk access or enforcing traffic laws, but there are several other factors that influence the high fatality rate.
The areas in each state that saw a high pedestrian fatality rate are generally urbanized areas; over three-quarters of pedestrian deaths occurred in cities, as well as areas that have a high traffic volume. Furthermore, people at a higher risk are in cities where other methods of transportation are used more than cars, such as bicyclists or those walking to work or between train stations.
Experts have also seen a rise in pedestrian fatalities particularly during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdowns of 2020 and some of 2021, despite the vastly large decrease of drivers on the road. In fact, pedestrian deaths increased by almost 25 percent, which is the highest increase seen in nearly a century. One expert explains that the empty roadways during the first few months of the pandemic may explain the rise in pedestrian deaths. Drivers began getting used to seeing an empty roadway, which desensitized the brain and likely lowered one’s focus. With people began coming out of their homes and walking, while drivers were getting accustomed to driving again, it spelled disaster.
The rise in hybrid and electric vehicles may also have played a role. With the absence of a gasoline engine and exhaust, so-called quiet cars are dangerous to pedestrians who are used to hearing an approaching car. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is looking to require automakers to install alert systems for these types of vehicles to warn a pedestrian of their approach.
Very recently, New Jersey was right outside the top 10 of Most Dangerous States for Pedestrians. In 2016, the state saw almost two pedestrian deaths for every 100,000 citizens, which made it sixth on the list. Although there has been an improvement, it is still very much a concern for the community.
Atlantic City Car Accident Lawyers at the D’Amato Law Firm Help Pedestrians and Their Families Who are Injured or Killed by Negligent Drivers
It may be surprising to learn that pedestrians are in more danger in recent years than they ever have been. If you or a loved one were injured or killed by a reckless driver, contact the Atlantic City car accident lawyers at the D’Amato Law Firm immediately. Our experienced lawyers will help protect your rights and get the compensation you and your family rightfully deserve. Call us today at 609-926-3300 or contact us online for a free consultation. With an office in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, we assist accident victims in Atlantic City, Linwood, Galloway Township, Cape May, Vineland, Millville, Bridgeton, Ocean City, Woodbury, and across South Jersey.