Big cities like Miami, Florida, are among places in the U.S. reporting increases in pedestrian deaths –now at a near-30-year high. A recent report blames the increase in pedestrian deaths on drivers distracted by cell phones and an increase in high-impact SUVs on the road.
From 2008-2017, pedestrian accident deaths increased 35 percent, to 5,977 from 4,414, according to a Governors Highway Safety Association report of 2018 preliminary data released in February 2019.
Pedestrian fatalities continue to rise
After adjusting for anticipated underreporting in some state data and considering trends in pedestrian fatalities, the report estimated the number of pedestrian accident deaths nationwide in 2018 to be 6,227.
That puts pedestrian deaths at a near-30-year high, given that 6,482 pedestrian accident deaths occurred in 1990, according to commonwealthmagazine.org.
The Governors Highway Safety Association found that nearly half of the 6,227 pedestrian accident deaths in the United States came in Florida and just four other states: California, Texas, Georgia and Arizona.
The huge growth in cell phone use in vehicles and on foot means that motorists and pedestrians often are focused on these hand-held smartphones instead of on driving and walking. Other common distractions include drivers applying cosmetics, eating and petting dogs while on the road.
Also, getting hit by an SUV is likely to cause more of an injury than being struck by a car because SUVs are bigger and heavier than smaller vehicles. Of the over 17 million vehicles purchased in 2018, about 68 percent were trucks and SUVs, according to foxnews.com.
Another issue leading to pedestrian deaths being at a 30-year high is that many roads lack crosswalks or have crosswalks installed at distances too far for walkers to reach. This nationwide transportation system built for vehicles and not people puts walkers in areas not necessarily expected by drivers.
In Macon, Georgia, many streets are state highways and that makes pedestrian deaths more common. An area with many people who don’t have their own vehicles makes for more walkers on roads designed for fast-moving trucks and rush-hour traffic.
Steps Florida has taken to improve safety, due to pedestrian deaths reaching a 30-year high include:
- Use of computerized geographic information system maps to capture, store and analyze data
- High visibility enforcement at sites where crashes often occur
- Campaigns to educate the public about traffic laws and safety tips
- First responders trained to deal with the most common injuries pedestrians suffer in crashes
- Engineering, like installation of the Complete Streets concept
- $100 million for improved roadway lighting
Other suggested improvements include:
- Manufacturers weakening the blow from getting hit by an SUV by building sport utility vehicles with softer fronts and fronts that have a slope to them, like car hoods
- Making pedestrian detection and crash avoidance features in vehicles more affordable or even standard equipment to help in cutting down the high number of pedestrian accident deaths
- Reminding pedestrians to wear bright clothing or reflective attire when walking at night
- Increasing the number of crosswalks
- Making it safer to cross roadways by improving pedestrian signals and crosswalks
Contact Farrow & Pulice today for help if you’ve suffered a pedestrian accident or personal injury in Sarasota and southwestern Florida.