Walking is the oldest and most common form of transportation with countless benefits, helping people stay healthier and physically fit, but it can also be extremely dangerous. Tragically, the number of pedestrian fatalities continues to rise in the U.S. In 2018, there were 6,227 pedestrians killed in motor vehicle crashes, according to a recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).
The number of pedestrian traffic deaths increased by four percent from the previous year, resulting in the highest number of pedestrian deaths since 1990. The report is based on preliminary data for the first six months of the year from all 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC) and looking at national trends in pedestrian fatalities. The data was adjusted based on historic trends to obtain a full-year projection.
A similar analysis conducted by PennLive last month uncovered more pedestrians died in Central Pennsylvania in 2018 than any year in the past two decades. There were 23 pedestrian deaths last year compared to 15 in 2017 from Cumberland, Dauphin, Perry and York Counties.
The increase in pedestrians killed in the area matches a national trend. Pedestrian fatalities represent 16 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths, up from 12 percent a decade ago.
Pedestrian Fatalities in Pennsylvania
There were 90 pedestrian fatalities in Pennsylvania during the first six months of 2018 compared to 64 pedestrian deaths during the same period in 2017. This means that an additional 26 pedestrians were killed by motorists, a 41 percent increase and the seventh highest increase year-over-year nationwide.
The national report also ranked Pennsylvania the 23rd most dangerous state for pedestrians calculated per capita or per 100,000 population. The state’s fatality rate was .71 per 100,000.
Richard Retting, the report’s author, believes that crossing the street should not be a death sentence. There are a number of contributing factors, including infrastructure, engineering and behavioral strategies that can help reduce the risk of pedestrian accidents across all states.
This includes making changes to vehicle design, advocating for road improvements and conducting law enforcement and safety education programs so that drivers and pedestrians can safely share the road together, Retting noted.
Reasons for Rise in Pedestrian Deaths
The report has pointed to a number of contributing factors that have given rise in pedestrian deaths. These include lack of infrastructure, distracted driving, alcohol impairment and SUVs.
There has been a shift in U.S. car sales from passenger vehicles to light trucks. The number of larger vehicles involved in fatal pedestrian accidents since 2013 has increased at a faster rate – a 50 percent rise compared to 30 percent for passenger vehicles.
Nighttime crashes from 2008 to 2017 have accounted for 45 percent of the increase in pedestrian fatalities, compared to 11 percent in daytime pedestrian deaths. Even the growth in smartphone use within the past decade has been a significant source of distraction for all road users.
Increasing Pedestrian Safety
Every state has taken steps to address the issue of pedestrian safety using a number of tactics, according to a list provided in the report by the GHSA.
Pennsylvania law enforcement has conducted targeted enforcement stings to catch motorists who fail to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. The state has been focused on a number of engineering fixes that include curb extensions, raised intersections and speed tables or bumps.
The city of Harrisburg has also adopted a Vision Zero program to help eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries for all road users, including pedestrians, along the capital’s busiest streets. Within a 17-month period, the city experienced four pedestrian deaths on State Street.
Contact Our Team for Legal Representation
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a pedestrian-related accident, contact the Harrisburg car accident attorneys at Schmidt Kramer for legal help today. We have the knowledge, resources and experience to pursue the justice and compensation you deserve.
We have helped recover millions in compensation on behalf of our clients, including a settlement offer for a man hit while walking in a crosswalk in Northumberland County. Let us review your case and determine the options available to you during a free consultation. There are no upfront costs for our services unless we help you recover favorable compensation.