2017 saw a record number of pedestrian deaths: Why? | The Dickerson & Smith Law Group
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2017 saw a record number of pedestrian deaths: Why?

The vulnerability of a pedestrian in the event that he or she is struck by a motor vehicle is obvious. A driver in a car is protected by thousands of pounds of metal and safety equipment, and a pedestrian's body is completely exposed to injury. Add the fact that vehicles are usually traveling at high speeds and you can see why many pedestrians are killed after being struck by a car.

One might believe that in the modern day – after numerous technological advances, education campaigns, diligent enforcement of traffic laws and the redesign of roads to help pedestrians stay safe – pedestrian fatalities would be on the decline. However, as recent motor vehicle accident statistics from 2016 indicate, pedestrian fatalities are at record levels. In fact, the last time pedestrian deaths reached the current levels was 1983.

Six thousand pedestrians died in 2016, which marked the second year of record-breaking pedestrian deaths due to auto collisions. This certainly begs the question of why? Why can't police and city leaders assist to reduce these incidents? Experts believe that blame could rest on two important and detrimental factors for pedestrians: smartphone use while driving and driving while intoxicated by marijuana.

Smartphone use is clearly on the rise, and many drivers are loath to put down these distracting devices when taking to the roads. Even though it's illegal, drivers are endangering their fellow citizens every time they take their eyes away from the roads to look at a digital device. There's also the legalization of recreational marijuana in Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Washington, D.C. This has given rise to increasing use and acceptance of marijuana throughout the United States – leading to more intoxicated drivers on the road. These states saw a 16.4 percent rise in pedestrian deaths in the first half of 2017.

It's not entirely clear if these factors are the real reason for more pedestrian deaths; however, one thing is for sure. Marijuana and smartphones are definitely the reason for many of the pedestrian deaths that are currently happening. If your close family member died in a vehicle versus pedestrian collision, make sure to investigate what happened. If the driver was at fault due to negligence or unlawful activity, you may want to learn more about the law as it applies to wrongful death claims.

Source: Governors Highway Safety Adinistration, "Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State: 2017 Preliminary Data," Feb. 28, 2018

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