Improving Pedestrian Safety
Pedestrian fatalities increased by a staggering 53% from 2009-2018, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. In 2019 alone, 6,590 pedestrians were killed in collisions. Efforts to reduce and eliminate pedestrian injuries and fatalities involve a multi-faceted approach.
Five states, including Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, and Texas, accounted for 47%, or nearly half of all pedestrian deaths during the first six months of 2019. These five states by comparison represented about 33% of the U.S. population, according to 2019 U.S. Census data. New Mexico had the highest rate pedestrian fatality rate per 100,000 population at 2.24, while Vermont had the lowest at 0.18.
Fifteen states had pedestrian fatality rates of 1.0 or higher, compared with 12 states in 2018. Those fifteen states include Alabama, Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Wyoming. The GHSA projects a U.S. pedestrian fatality rate to become 2.0, which would be the largest pedestrian fatality rate in the U.S. since 1997.
Engineering of traffic infrastructure is a major factor in pedestrian safety. In 2019, about 59% of pedestrian fatalities occurred on main roads that carry local and regional traffic, and another 22% of pedestrian fatalities took place on roadways that serve residential and downtown traffic. Countermeasures such as rectangular rapid flashing beacons, pedestrian-hybrid beacons, curb extensions, and pedestrian refuge islands have been shown to improve pedestrian safety in these environments.
Street lighting is a significant consideration in roadway safety as about 75% of pedestrian fatalities occur after dark. Meanwhile, auto manufacturers are moving toward equipping more vehicles with automatic braking and pedestrian-detection technologies that could help reduce pedestrian collisions.
Targeted law enforcement efforts may be utilized in areas where there is a higher representation of traffic crashes that result in serious or fatal injuries to pedestrians and bicyclists. Reducing speed limits in pedestrian zones can also reduce the severity of pedestrian collisions.
Public information campaigns may also be used to educate people about driver awareness and pedestrian safety. Such programs may be best focused on areas where there are significant numbers of people who walk as a primary form of transportation.
If you or a friend, a family member is injured as a result of another party’s negligence, a personal injury attorney should be consulted. Fault can be investigated. Insurance coverages can be determined. Damages claims can be evaluated. There should be no fees unless a settlement is obtained.
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