According to the Governor's Highway Safety Association, "In recent years, the number of pedestrian fatalities in the United States has grown substantially faster than all other traffic deaths. The number of pedestrian fatalities increased 27 percent from 2007 to 2016, while at the same time, all other traffic deaths decreased by 14 percent. Pedestrian deaths as a proportion of total motor vehicle crash deaths increased steadily, from 11 percent in 2007 to 16 percent in 2016. Pedestrians now account for a larger proportion of traffic fatalities than they have in the past 33 years."
In the past five years, the state of Utah has seen a 25 percent increase in fatal pedestrian crashes. So what is the cause of this increase? While experts do not give a definitive answer for the increase, several contributing factors have been identified. Impaired and distracted driving are the two most common contributing factors to auto-pedestrian accidents. Impaired drivers' reaction time is affected and distracted drivers do not see pedestrians because they are not focused on the road. Two additional increases in behavior that have not directly been linked but may have a corollary connection are an increase in pedestrian traffic and smartphone use while driving.
Visibility plays a major role in auto-pedestrian accidents. Over 75 percent of auto-pedestrian accidents occur after dark. Pedestrians who are following the law by crossing the street in a crosswalk with the traffic light have been struck because of poor visibility.
Campaigns across the nation have been created to increase education and awareness about pedestrian safety and the responsibility motorists have to be alert and aware. Unfortunately, this has not made a significant difference in the numbers of deaths.
So what can you do to protect yourself? As a driver, never drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Avoid talking on your phone when driving, even if it is hands-free. If you need to take a call or check for directions, pull over. Never text or read texts while driving. It only takes a second for someone to step out into the road in front of you.
As a pedestrian, only cross at crosswalks and watch for cars that may be turning. Do not ever assume that you are visible to drivers. If walking at night, wear reflective clothing. Do not text and walk. Be alert and aware of your surroundings.
We know that even when you do all that you can to be safe and protect yourself, accidents still happen. If you or someone you know has been involved in an auto-pedestrian accident, contact our office for a FREE consultation. We can help.