Pedestrian fatalities have reached an alarming high for the third consecutive year, as the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reported in a recent study.
Last year marked the highest single-year total in more than four decades. The statistics are troubling, with 20 people losing their lives every day while simply going for a walk and never returning home.
Jonathan Adkins, the chief executive officer of the GHSA, highlighted the tragic nature of these incidents in an interview with Forbes, emphasizing that these victims were engaged in their daily routines, such as commuting, grocery shopping, or exercising, when they met sudden and violent ends.
The escalating number of pedestrian accidents calls for urgent attention and action to enhance road safety, protect vulnerable pedestrians, and hold negligent drivers accountable.
Pedestrian fatalities set four-decade high
Every year, the GHSA publishes a report titled "Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities By State." This annual report provides detailed insights into the total number of pedestrian deaths nationwide and by state, utilizing data gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
In the latest report for 2022, the GHSA revealed 7,508 lives were lost in pedestrian accidents nationwide. This marked the highest number of pedestrian deaths recorded in a single year since 1981.
Moreover, the report identified an ongoing and concerning trend of increasing pedestrian fatalities. Over the past decade, pedestrian deaths have seen a drastic surge, amounting to a notable 77 percent increase. Specifically, between 2019 and 2022, there was a 19 percent rise in pedestrian fatalities, as documented by the GHSA.
"This continues the upward trend (in pedestrian fatalities) that the United States has been experiencing for decades," the GHSA report states.
Texas pedestrian accidents
In line with national trends, pedestrian fatalities in Texas reached a new and alarming high last year. The Lone Star State consistently records the highest number of pedestrian deaths each year compared to most other states. The statistics for 2022 paint a grim picture, with a total of 834 individuals losing their lives in pedestrian accidents, representing a 1 percent increase compared to the previous year, as reported by the GHSA.
Of all the states, Texas ranked second in terms of pedestrian fatalities, with only California reporting a higher death toll. The 2022 figures for pedestrian accidents in Texas also marked the highest recorded in recent years. Since 2012, pedestrian fatalities in the state have surged by a staggering 73 percent, according to data compiled by the NHTSA.
Common causes of pedestrian accidents
The rise in pedestrian accidents can be attributed to several critical factors, as identified by the GHSA:
One of the major contributors to fatal pedestrian accidents is impaired driving, with drunk drivers accounting for 19 percent of such incidents. When drivers operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, their ability to perceive and respond to pedestrians on the road is significantly impaired, leading to devastating consequences.
Speeders are responsible for approximately 8 percent of pedestrian accidents. Exceeding the speed limit reduces a driver's reaction time, making it more challenging to avoid collisions and pose a higher risk to pedestrians on the road. Speeding also results in more severe injuries to pedestrians due to the higher force of impact in a collision.
Reckless and Aggressive Driving
Dangerous driving behaviors, such as texting while driving, running red lights, or ignoring stop signs, create hazardous conditions for pedestrians. Reckless and aggressive drivers pose a serious threat to those walking or crossing the streets, leading to preventable collisions.
Larger Vehicles, Especially SUVs
The proliferation of larger vehicles, notably SUVs, has contributed to the recent surge in pedestrian accidents. Collisions involving SUVs tend to result in more severe injuries and fatalities for pedestrians due to the higher impact force exerted by these vehicles.
Keeping pedestrians safe
The recent GHSA report not only provides critical pedestrian accident data but also offers valuable suggestions aimed at reducing the alarming number of pedestrian deaths. GHSA CEO Jonathan Adkins highlighted the preventable nature of these crashes, making it clear that concerted efforts can save lives. Some of the suggested measures include:
- Lower Speed Limits: Implementing lower speed limits on roads with a history of pedestrian accidents can significantly improve safety. Reduced speeds provide drivers with more reaction time and increase the chances of avoiding collisions with pedestrians.
- Increased Streetlights: Enhancing visibility at intersections and crosswalks with more streetlights can be a simple yet effective measure to prevent accidents, especially during low-light conditions when visibility is compromised.
- Improved Road Design: Designing roads with pedestrians, cyclists, and other non-motorized road users in mind can create safer environments for everyone. Implementing traffic-calming measures and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure can help reduce the risk of accidents.
- Sidewalk Construction: Building sidewalks on roads that currently lack them, especially those with a history of pedestrian accidents, can provide a safe space for pedestrians and help keep them away from traffic lanes.
- Pedestrian Safety Education: Integrating pedestrian safety tips into driver education programs, particularly for younger drivers, can increase awareness and foster responsible driving behavior around pedestrians.
- Enforcement of Traffic Laws: Strengthening enforcement of laws against drunk driving, speeding, and texting while driving can deter dangerous behaviors and ultimately reduce pedestrian accidents.
Pedestrian accident lawyers in Fort Worth, TX
If you were hit by a car while crossing the street or walking near the road, it's essential to understand your potential legal options. Claims involving pedestrian accidents often become complex legal battles, making it crucial to have an experienced lawyer by your side to protect your rights and aggressively advocate for your best interests.
At Coby L. Wooten, Attorney At Law, P.C., we are here to support you throughout every step of the process. Our team has extensive experience investigating pedestrian accidents and can fight for the compensation you're entitled to under Texas law. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today for a free consultation. We're located in Fort Worth, TX, and we look forward to speaking with you about your potential legal case.