Feb 26

What’s Behind the Rise in Pedestrian Accidents and Fatalities?

by Tate Law Offices, P.C.Bicycle Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrian sign

Pedestrians are one of the few groups of road users who have experienced an increase in fatalities across the U.S. In 2011, over 4,400 pedestrians were killed in accidents. This represents over a 4% increase from previous years. Sadly, today, a pedestrian is killed every 199 minutes and injured every eight. The rise in pedestrian fatalities comes at a time when overall traffic safety has improved and fatalities across most categories are on the decline.

Pedestrian accidents and fatalities in Texas have hit an all time high. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, over 5,000 pedestrians in the state were hit by motor vehicles last year, resulting in serious injuries to almost 3,000 and killing 481. Pedestrian fatalities in Texas are up 17% year from the year before. Bicyclists also experience accidents and deaths at alarming rates. Over 2,000 bicyclists were hit across Texas resulting in the deaths of 56 and serious injury to 1,450. Texas is ranked the ninth highest state for pedestrian danger.

This distressing increase in pedestrian accidents and fatalities has lead to examination by many safety experts as to the root of its cause. Some of the posed reasons behind the rise in pedestrian accidents and fatalities include:

  1. Distracted driving — A new study published by the journal of U.S. Public Health Service and the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General found that distracted driving, particularly texting while driving, is largely responsible for the increased death toll among pedestrians. Distracted driving includes anything from cell phone use to turning the radio station or eating. The newly published study determined that police officers cited distracted drivers in about 18.6% of all accidents involving pedestrians. One out of every 10 traffic fatalities due to distracted driving involved a pedestrian or a bicyclist. Distracted driving is a massive problem for all road users, and pedestrians are just the latest group seeing a sharp rise in fatalities due to the harmful phenomenon largely spurred by technological advances.
  2. Distracted walking — Distraction is not just dangerous for the driver. Pedestrians who walk “distractedly,” most often texting while walking, are in part a reason for the increase in pedestrian fatalities. Hospital data shows that more than 1,500 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms nation-wide for cell phone related injuries. Reported injuries included everything from walking into traffic or falling off a bridge all while talking or texting on a cell phone.
  3. Drunk walking — Although it is certainly safer to walk after having one too many alcoholic drinks, drunk walking is still not safe. One study revealed up to 15% of injured pedestrians had consumed alcohol before their accidents. Like distracted walking, drunk walking impairs the pedestrian’s perceptions and can lead to fatal results.
  4. Use of headphones — In the past few years, more and more pedestrians have taken to listening to music while walking via devices like the I-Pod or through their smart phones. This requires the use of headphones, ear buds, or blue tooth devices. The number of pedestrian accidents involving headphones has risen dramatically between 2005 and 2011. This is attributed to the inability of pedestrians wearing headphones to hear cars, trains, or other dangerous vehicles around them. In fact, in nearly three quarters of pedestrian fatalities involving headphones, the pedestrian could not hear the car’s horn attempting to warn them of the approaching vehicle.

Tate Law Offices, P.C., has represented pedestrian victims for over two decades. We understand the potential for grave injury involved in any pedestrian accident, and are appalled by the recent uptick in pedestrian fatalities. If you or a loved one has been injured while walking, the Tate Law Offices can help you recover. Call us today at 888-662-3892 for a free case analysis.

“Crosswalk Sign” image based on “Crosswalk Sign” by robinsonsmay, CC-BY-3.0.