Rising Rates of Pedestrian Fatalities
Pedestrian accidents are on the rise in Florida and across the country. Indeed, according to a recent report from NPR, there were 6,227 pedestrian deaths in 2018, which is “the highest number in nearly 30 years.” The figure represents a 30 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities over the last decade. That information comes from a recent report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). A majority of the deaths occurred in urban and suburban areas, including cities in South Florida.
The report discusses some of the reasons that pedestrian fatalities are on the rise, and it is important for residents of West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, and other parts of South Florida to understand the risks associated with walking in areas that have not been designed with pedestrian safety in mind.
Reasons for Increase in Pedestrian Deaths
There are many reasons that pedestrian accidents are on the rise, but one of the clear underlying issues is that cities and suburban areas have not been structured or designed with pedestrian safety in mind: “stretches of road without crosswalks and people needing to walk on roads built for rush-hour traffic.” Yet one of the most obvious reasons for a rise in pedestrian accidents may have to do with technology: “drivers and pedestrians distracted by their phones.” At the same time, there are more vehicles on the road, which results in more accidents occurring in general.
What is the reason that urban and suburban areas are not designed with pedestrians in mind? According to the report, population growth has resulted in more walkers but also more drivers, which can be a deadly combination for roadways that are not necessarily designed with pedestrian safety features. When it comes to the infrastructure, the report indicates that, in some areas, crosswalks can be as far as two miles apart from one another. Given that “most people will walk on 300 feet to the nearest crosswalk,” this results in pedestrians frequently crossing the street at areas without crosswalks. Failing to cross at a crosswalk can increase a person’s risk of being struck by a motorist.
When it comes to more drivers on the road, the issue goes beyond more motorists behind the wheel. More precisely, more people are buying and driving SUVs and light trucks, which can cause more serious injuries than smaller passenger cars when they collide with pedestrians. According to Richard Retting, the author of the GHSA report, “there’s no question that pedestrians hit by SUVs are more likely to die than those hit by a car.” To be sure, “SUVs are bigger, heavier, and deadly for pedestrians.”
Preventing Pedestrian Accidents and Injuries
What can we do to help prevent pedestrian accidents and injuries in the future? For Floridians, the report suggests that the focus should be on distracted walking and distracted driving. In Florida, according to the report, “the majority of crashes involve distracted local drivers.” And distracted driving involves more than using a smartphone. Indeed, eating, grooming, and other behaviors that do not involve technology commonly are factors in distracted driving crashes in Florida.
Contact a Pedestrian Accident Attorney in West Palm Beach
If you were injured in a pedestrian accident in Florida, you should discuss your case with a West Palm Beach pedestrian accident attorney as soon as possible. Contact Lesser Lesser Landy & Smith PLLC for more information.