Motor vehicle fatalities have remained virtually unchanged in recent years. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for pedestrian deaths. According to data analysis from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, there were an estimated 6,590 deaths in 2019, a 5% increase over 2018, and a whopping 50% increase in the last ten years. That number is the highest in 30 years and now comprises 17% of all road deaths (35,560 in 2018, which is the last year with conclusive data).
Florida leads the country in the number of pedestrian deaths with record numbers of fatalities involving people walking that were hit and killed by drivers, increasing from 359 in 2018 to 368 in 2019. This is only a 3% increase, but it is still an increase while the numbers in 20 states are going down.
Why are these numbers so high?
The GHSA listed several reasons why the pedestrian numbers are so high:
- Distracted driving: This issue is an epidemic thanks to smartphone usage by drivers while operating the vehicle as well as the increased complexity (distractions) of car interiors.
- SUVs: These vehicles have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, but they are larger, harder to maneuver and sit higher up (which means they impact bodies rather than legs).
- Intoxication: This is a stubborn problem that remains with 16% of all road fatalities involving driving under the influence.
- Road design: The priority in road design has changed recently, but it emphasized traffic flow over safety for years. Two-thirds of all deaths occur after dark, which means there aren’t enough streetlights to see people walking.
Families often forced to take action
More and more people are out walking these days to get exercise or to go about their lives. Sadly, this healthy and environmentally friendly activity has turned deadly in some cases. Surviving family members may need to hold drivers or municipalities in charge of the road design and safety measures accountable for their fatal negligence. A personal injury attorney handling motor vehicle accidents and wrongful death claims can help families receive compensation for lost income, related expenses and pain and suffering involved in their loss.