Pedestrian Fatalities on the Rise
Pedestrians are extremely vulnerable to injury when they are struck by a motor vehicle. The combination of being hit by the weight of a vehicle and having no protection from the impact makes for a very dangerous situation. Sadly, pedestrian fatalities have been on the rise and despite the drop in traffic during the early days of the pandemic, more pedestrians were killed.
Pedestrian fatalities on the rise
Data from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) showed that 2020 had the largest ever year over year jump in the rate that drivers struck and killed pedestrians. When you consider that 2020 had far fewer cars on the road for several months, it’s hard to understand what caused this surge in fatalities. Safety experts attribute the rise in foot traffic deaths to an increase in dangerous driving behaviors such as speeding, distracted driving, and drunk and drugged driving. It should also be noted that roadway infrastructure has long prioritized motor vehicles over walkers and cyclists; an increase in negligent driving only plays into these vulnerabilities.
According to the GHSA, there were 6,721 pedestrian deaths in 2020, which was a 4.8 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities reported in 2019 (6,412 fatalities). When you factor in the 13.2 percent decrease in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 2020 due to stay at home orders, the pedestrian fatality rate was 2.3 per billion VMT, a horrific and never before seen 21% increase over the year prior (1.9 in 2019). This jump is the highest ever increase in the pedestrian death rate since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) was established in 1975.
Pedestrian accident in Bellingham, WA
Bellingham is not immune to pedestrian accidents. As reported by kgmi.com news, a 60-year-old Bellingham man was critically injured when he was hit by a car while crossing Lakeway Drive just after 7 p.m. earlier this week. According to Bellingham Police, the man was wearing all dark clothing and wasn’t in a crosswalk. The driver told officers they couldn’t see the man until it was too late.
Who is at highest risk for pedestrian fatalities?
According to smartgrowthamerica.org, certain populations are disproportionately affected by pedestrian injuries. In particular, seniors, people of color, and people walking in low-income communities are at higher risk of being struck by a vehicle (even when controlling for differences in population size and walking rates).
Between 2010-2019, Black people were struck and killed by drivers at an 82 percent higher rate than White, non-Hispanic Americans. For American Indian and Alaska Native people, the disparity is even worse with a 221 percent higher rate.
There are things that cities, drivers, and pedestrians can do to keep pedestrians safer.
Pedestrians can wear reflective clothing or carry a flashlight while walking in the dark. They should walk on sidewalks and only cross where it is safe to do so, preferably at a crosswalk or passenger bridge.
Drivers can slow down and be prepared to stop when nearing a crosswalk. They should always yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk.
Cities can build accessible and continuous sidewalks and crosswalks with large, flashing lights. Another idea is to make “safe zones” for pedestrians and cyclists.
Seek the help of a car accident attorney
If you or a loved one was injured in a collision because of the negligence of another, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Let an experienced car accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!