According to a new national study by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, motor vehicle traffic has become increasingly dangerous for pedestrians, with the number of pedestrian deaths nationally increasing about 5% per year over the last ten years. While the number of deaths in cars, trucks and motorcycles remains about the same percentages, the total percentage of pedestrians involved in traffic fatalities in 2019 has increased to 17%, which is the highest since 1982 and up from 12% in 2009.

California is famous for its love of cars, but it is increasingly at the expense of pedestrians. The state leads the way with an estimated 519 deaths in 2019 (the official numbers are still not released). This is a 12% increase over the 2018 total of 464 fatalities.

Why are these numbers up?

Safety advocates and experts are alarmed by these statistics and others. According to the report, the reasons for the increase include:

Devices: Distracted driving has reached epidemic proportions since the arrival of the smartphone.

Car design: More and more Americans drive SUVs or other larger cars, which are harder to maneuver, have larger motors for more speed and the size leads to more significant impact during crashes.

Intoxication: Driving while intoxicated remains a stubborn problem, but more pedestrians are also drunk (perhaps choosing to walk rather than drive).

Nighttime numbers up 75%

Safety experts cite road design trends that until recently favored traffic flow over pedestrian safety. Municipalities can improve safety by:

  • Implementing high visibility flashing pedestrian crossing in the middle of blocks
  • Build pedestrian islands that can provide refuge if a driver does not see the person crossing
  • Increased enforcement of speed limits and more DUI checkpoints
  • Better lighting of roads
  • Safer pedestrian pathways protected from the road
  • Better classroom education and campaigns regarding pedestrian safety

Wrongful death suits hold negligent accountable

Just as semi-trucks size makes them dangerous to passenger cars and light trucks, these passenger vehicles can kill pedestrians while causing minor or no injury to the driver and their passengers. However, families of deceased loved ones may be able to hold reckless drivers and municipalities with poorly designed roads accountable for these senseless deaths.

Those with questions about a pedestrian injury can talk to a personal injury attorney who handles wrongful death and severe injury cases involving motor vehicles.