The Governor’s Highway Safety Association recently released a study that found pedestrian fatalities are up 50% between 2009 and 2018. While other statistics involving driving fatalities hold steady or dip, the pedestrian deaths rose to the highest national number since 1982, with a total of 6,283 deaths. This is 17% of the 36,560 deaths on the road in 2018.
Amidst this disturbing trend, there was a bit of good news for Indianans. The number of deaths was down from 44 to 36 in the first half of 2019 (these are the most recent numbers). The rate of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 population in Indiana is towards the bottom of the 50 states with .53 (the national average is 2.0).
Why is this happening?
Among the statistics, safety experts also cited the causes:
- Distractions: Distracted driving has reached epidemic proportions because drivers persist in using their devices while driving. Other distractions include a wide range of tech included in many modern cars.
- Car design: SUV and light truck sales skyrocketed in the last ten years. These vehicles are more dangerous because they are larger, have more power, and are harder to maneuver.
- Intoxication: Driving under the influence is still a stubborn problem, but it is also pedestrians under the influence.
Nights are the most dangerous
An eye-popping 75% of pedestrian deaths occur at night. This has driven the rising numbers. Reasons for this include road design emphasizing traffic flow over pedestrian safety. Solutions include:
- Installing high-visibility pedestrian crossings in the middle of blocks.
- Installing pedestrian islands with barriers in the middle of wider roads.
- Increase enforcement of DUI and speed limits.
- Better lighting for identifying pedestrians.
- Add safer pedestrian pathways with walkways divided from roads.
- Add classroom education and safety initiatives.
Wrongful deaths suits hold the negligent accountable
It’s a fact that an average passenger vehicle can kill pedestrians while causing little or no injury to drivers. Families of deceased loved ones may find it necessary to file a wrongful death suit against a negligent driver to recoup lost wages, related medical expenses as well as pain and suffering. It may also be necessary to hold the state or municipalities accountable for poorly designed or maintained roads. An attorney with experience working on wrongful death suits can help victims’ families get the compensation they deserve.