Motor vehicle crashes involving fatalities have remained relatively stable over the last several years. Unfortunately, the Governors Highway Safety Association released new data indicating that this is not the case for pedestrians. It found that pedestrian deaths on U.S. roads rose 50% in the last ten years, totaling 6,590 in 2019. This is a 5% increase over 2018 and the highest total in 30 years.
Part of a trend
This historic rehearsal in the number of deaths is troubling but not surprising considering recent trends:
- Distracted driving: The skyrocketing use of phones and digital devices by drivers has prompted new laws with severe penalties, but device use is a hard habit to break.
- SUVs: More Americans than ever drive SUVs, which are larger, harder to maneuver and sit higher up (causing impact to the body rather than legs).
- Road design: This trend is changing, but recent decades have favored traffic flow over pedestrian safety. The number of fatalities jumps to 67% once it gets dark.
- Intoxication: An estimated 33% of pedestrian fatalities involves a victim with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. Drivers were over the legal limit 16% of the time.
Making the roads safer for all
Some have implemented new road design advances. This includes adding more lighted crosswalks. Better lighting is something that many cities and towns are looking at if they have not already started adding lights.
More walking than ever
The numbers involving intoxicated pedestrians indicates that more people are not drinking and driving. With shelter in place orders used to address COVID-19, many Minnesotans are walking for exercise and relaxation. Using easily seen jackets makes more sense than ever, particularly at night.
Families may take action
There is no comfort in knowing that a loved one’s death is part of a growing trend in reckless driving. Families may wish to hold the negligent driver accountable by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. They may even want to name other responsible parties like townships and municipalities with poorly lit or designed roads that put the walker in harm’s way. Those with questions can speak with a personal injury attorney who handles motor vehicle accidents here in Central Minnesota.