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The Governors Highway Safety Association released new data showing that pedestrian fatalities are the highest they have been in more than 20 years. The Governors Highway Safety Association, representing safety offices throughout the country, ordered the report, which contains data from every state and the District of Columbia. They found there were 6,000 pedestrian deaths in 2016, an 11 percent increase over the previous year. That is the largest annual increase in more than 40 years. Experts speculate the drastic rise in pedestrian accident deaths has a lot to do with drivers and walkers distracted by cell phones.
Lower gases prices combined with an improved economy mean more drivers on the road. More vehicles on the roads inevitably increase driver and pedestrian injuries and fatalities. Yet, miles walked and driven only increased a few percentage points in 2016, which does not account for the 11 percent spike in pedestrian deaths.
Alcohol is also a factor in pedestrian fatalities. More than one-third of pedestrians and 15 percent of drivers involved in fatal collisions were under the influence of alcohol. Those figures, though staggering, still do not account for the drastic increase in pedestrian accident deaths last year. There is no data suggesting a major change in alcohol consumption last year, so that alone cannot be the reason for the increase in pedestrian fatalities.
The primary variable that has changed over the past twenty years is the use of handheld technology, mainly cell phones, and the distractions they cause. Research shows that distracted driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. Taking your eyes off the road for just five seconds while driving at a speed of 55 miles per hour is like driving the entire length of a football field with your eyes closed. Nothing in a distracted driver’s path is safe – including cyclists, walkers, joggers, and pets.
With this new data on pedestrian safety, it is clear that more needs to be done to keep our most vulnerable commuters safe. The best way for pedestrians to be safe on the sidewalks and roadways across the country is to stay alert, aware, and as visible as possible. Pedestrians should never assume that every driver sees them. Crossing at designated crosswalks, obeying all traffic laws, and wearing light or reflective clothing at night are a good start.
Distractions are also a problem for those traveling on foot. Walkers that are focused on their phones may find themselves in the path of an oncoming car or bus. Teaching children safe pedestrian habits will keep them safe on their walk to the bus stop or through the neighborhood. Every traveler has a responsibility to pay attention, respect the rules of the road, and put away the phone.
Cherry Hill personal injury lawyers at Folkman Law Offices, P.C. are strong advocates for pedestrian accident victims and their families. If you have been injured, or suffered the wrongful death of a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, call 856-354-9444 today to arrange a free consultation with a South Jersey pedestrian accident lawyer at our Cherry Hill, New Jersey location, or complete our online contact form. Folkman Law Offices, P.C. also has locations in Philadelphia and King of Prussia to serve clients throughout all of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.