It goes without saying that walking is a good exercise and a cheap mode of transportation, which is why many here in San Diego engage in this activity. Regardless of why you walk, you risk serious or deadly injury each time you do so anywhere near motor vehicle traffic.
You may already know that, but what you may not know is that the danger you face has increased to alarming levels. Data gathered by the Governors Highway Safety Administration and the Federal Highway Administration provides information regarding the extent of the problem and possible causes for the rise in deaths.
What happened in 2019?
The simple answer is the number of pedestrians killed in motor vehicle accidents was the highest it had been in 30 years. The numbers were so alarming that many states have initiated programs to reduce the number of pedestrian deaths to zero, and many municipalities are reviewing how people and motor vehicles interact on their streets. The GHSA says that 6,590 pedestrians lost their lives in 2019, which represents a 5% increase from 2018. As it turns out, the last time the numbers were this high was back in 1988.
Between 2009 and 2019, the number of pedestrian deaths rose by a distressing 60%. This information is even more surprising and shocking because the concrete numbers reported by the GHSA only come from January through June of 2019. That was the last complete data available in Feb. 2020 when the GHSA report came out. Sadly, California is among five states that made up approximately 47% of these deadly incidents across the country.
What is causing such a dramatic rise in pedestrian deaths?
The FHA surmises that distracted driving, particularly cell phone use, contributed to a number of pedestrian deaths. The other issue is the rise in popularity and sales of SUVs and other high-profile vehicles. The shape and size of these vehicles cause a pedestrian’s body to impact more of the vehicle.
SUVs tend to cause deadly injury to pedestrians twice as much as passenger cars. Even though they are still deadly, passenger vehicles strike at lower points on the body, and victims may come up over them instead of potentially becoming caught underneath and/or run over.
What can you do?
As a pedestrian, you may want to increase your vigilance and refrain from engaging in any behavior that may distract you from the traffic. However, your diligence does not erase the duty a motor vehicle driver owes you when it comes to your safety. If you suffer injuries or lose a loved one in a pedestrian vs. vehicle accident, you may exercise your right to seek compensation to help with the financial losses and other damages that accompany such tragedies.