A report prepared for the Governors Highway Safety Association revealed that fatal pedestrian accidents increased by 11 percent nationwide in 2016, and distracted driving played the biggest role in the increase.
Per a report by the Associated Press and WKRN.com, nearly 6,000 people were killed in the U.S. while walking on or near roadways, making 2016 the deadliest year for pedestrians in more than two decades.
In addition to distracted driving, other factors causing pedestrian fatalities include an improved economy and lower gas prices, leading to more vehicles on the roadway, and more people choosing to walk for exercise and to reduce environmental impact.
However, the research team behind the study says that distraction on the part of both drivers and walkers is the biggest source of the increased number of deaths, and they believe it’s primarily the use of cellphones and other electronic devices.
Traffic fatalities of all types increased by six percent in 2016 compared to 2015, and there were 40,200 total traffic deaths last year. But pedestrian deaths alone have increased significantly, with a jump of 25 percent from 2010 to 2015.
A spokesperson for the National Safety Council says that just as drivers need to be more cautious and attentive on the roadway, it’s also important for pedestrians to avoid distractions and to always be aware of their surroundings.
How to Avoid an Accident as a Driver and a Pedestrian
Minimizing the risk of a pedestrian accident is the responsibility of both drivers and pedestrians. As a driver, you should:
- Avoid distractions.
Pedestrians are difficult to see, especially in dense urban areas where there may be other vehicles in your lane and parked near crosswalks. Drivers who are distracted may not see pedestrians who walk into crosswalks, and they may not have enough time to stop or slow down to avoid an accident.
- Be cautious in parking lots.
Although parking lots are relatively low-speed areas, pedestrians can still be seriously injured and even killed when walking to and from their vehicles. Use your mirrors when reversing out of parking spots, and try to back in when possible for safer exits.
- Reduce your speed in residential areas and school zones.
It’s common to see people walking in residential areas and neighborhoods, and school zones can be full of children and adults crossing the street or walking near a roadway in the morning and afternoon. Always reduce your speed when traveling through these areas.
As a pedestrian, you should:
- Stay on sidewalks and crosswalks.
The safest place to walk as a pedestrian is on sidewalks and crosswalks. Crossing the street anywhere other than a crosswalk is extremely dangerous. If a sidewalk is available, always walk on it. If not, use the shoulder of the road and place as much distance between yourself and traffic as possible.
- Keep your eyes and ears focused on the road.
Whether you’re walking or jogging, it’s vital that you keep your senses tuned to your surroundings. If you use headphones, make sure the volume is low enough that you can still hear what’s going on around you, and avoid texting while walking.
- Wear bright and reflective clothing at night.
Walking at night or during other times of poor visibility significantly increases your risk of being involved in a pedestrian accident. You can reduce your risks by wearing clothing that’s bright and reflective. Carrying a flashlight is also recommended.
Because of the alarming increase in the number of pedestrian deaths recorded between 2010 and 2015, the National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation to determine what’s causing the trend. A spokesperson with the NTSB says that pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users, and that having access to smartphones makes both drivers and pedestrians more easily distracted.
If you or someone you know was injured in a pedestrian accident, proving that the driver who hit you was distracted, under the influence, or violating traffic laws can help you maximize your chances of recovering compensation for your accident-related expenses. Matt Hardin Law’s team of Nashville pedestrian accident attorneys have more than 20 years of experience building claims for injured victims like you, and we know what it takes to win. Contact us at (615) 200-1111 or complete a free online consultation form.