The GHSA report reveals that in 2022, at least 7,508 pedestrian died marking a staggering 77% increase since 2010. This tragic statistic signifies not only a significant loss of life but also a growing safety disparity for pedestrians compared to other traffic-related fatalities, which saw a 25% increase over the same period.
Multiple factors contribute to this escalating crisis. Dangerous driving behaviors, inadequate infrastructure, and the prevalence of larger and heavier vehicles all play significant roles in the rising number of pedestrian fatalities. Regrettably, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic witnessed a surge in dangerous driving practices, which have persisted and further jeopardized the safety of pedestrians.
Every day, an average of 20 individuals embarks on a walk, only to meet a tragic end. These are ordinary people engaging in routine activities—commuting, shopping, exercising—whose lives are suddenly and violently cut short. The most disheartening aspect is that these incidents are preventable. We possess the knowledge and tools to reverse this distressing trend and protect pedestrians. It is high time we demand change and take action.
To curb this devastating trend, we must adopt a comprehensive Safe System approach that emphasizes pedestrian safety. This approach involves multiple strategies, including:
- Infrastructure Enhancement: Designing and building safer roadways equipped with features such as raised crosswalks, traffic calming measures, and separated pedestrian paths.
- Addressing Dangerous Driving Behaviors: Focusing traffic enforcement efforts on combatting risky driving behaviors like speeding, impaired driving, and distracted driving.
- Engaging with Vulnerable Communities: Initiating outreach programs to ensure the safety and well-being of people experiencing homelessness, who are particularly at risk.
- Educating Novice Drivers: Instilling a sense of responsibility among new drivers to prioritize pedestrian safety and promote vigilance on the roads.
Analyzing data from 2010 to 2021, the GHSA report highlights crucial insights that shed further light on the current pedestrian safety landscape:
- Nighttime Fatalities: A majority of pedestrian fatalities (77%) occur during nighttime, with this proportion steadily increasing over the years. Implementing targeted measures to enhance visibility and ensure adequate lighting is crucial.
- Impact of Larger Vehicles: While passenger cars account for the most pedestrian fatalities, the sharp rise in deaths involving sport utility vehicles (SUVs) is particularly alarming. Their size and weight pose a greater risk to pedestrians during collisions.
- Importance of Infrastructure: A lack of sidewalks significantly contributes to pedestrian fatalities, with 69% of deaths occurring in areas without sidewalks. Implementing comprehensive infrastructure designs that separate pedestrians from motor vehicles is essential.
- Disparities in Fatalities: Studies indicate that people of color are overrepresented in pedestrian fatalities, emphasizing the need for equitable safety measures and initiatives.
- Speeding and Freeway Dangers: Speeding continues to be a significant contributing factor, with 8.1% of pedestrian deaths in 2021 involving speeding drivers. Additionally, non-freeway arterial roads and freeways themselves pose considerable risks to pedestrians, necessitating stronger legislation and enforcement.
Recognizing the urgency and severity of the situation, stakeholders from various sectors will convene at the GHSA 2023 Annual Meeting in New York City this August. This gathering of traffic safety experts, public health officials, law enforcement representatives, and policymakers aims to address the surge in pedestrian deaths and harness the power of the Safe System approach to protect pedestrians.
As a pedestrian accident attorneys, we implore all stakeholders to unite in their commitment to pedestrian safety. Together, we must prioritize effective infrastructure, combat dangerous driving behaviors, and advocate for equitable and inclusive safety measures. By taking immediate action and implementing the Safe System approach, we can reverse the devastating trend of pedestrian fatalities and ensure that every person embarking on a walk returns home safely.