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Pedestrian Fatalities on U.S. Roads Increased by 50% in Last Decade

pedestrian accident

According to an analysis from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), pedestrian deaths have increased a staggering 50% over the last decade. Even more startling is 2020 saw the largest ever annual increase in the number of pedestrian deaths, even with the decrease in road traffic caused by the pandemic. The projected number of walkers hit and killed by drivers in 2020 is 6,721, a nearly 5% increase from 2019.

Why are pedestrian deaths on the rise and what can we do to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities? Let’s take a look at:

  • Pedestrian Accidents Trends and Statistics
  • Common Accident Victim Injuries
  • Pedestrian Safety

Pedestrian Accidents Trends and Statistics

According to the research conducted by GHSA, pedestrians accounted for 17% of all traffic deaths in 2019, compared to 12% in 2009. Overall traffic deaths, however, have increased at a much slower rate, only 2%. The improvements in motor vehicle technology and safety have increased survivability for car accident victims; however, pedestrians are still at a high-risk for injury or death when hit by a car.

The rise in pedestrian fatalities can be attributed to several trends, including:

  • A high number of pedestrian fatalities occur on local roads, at night and away from intersections. This data suggests the need for safer road crossings and stronger efforts to make pedestrians and motor vehicles more visible. During the past decade, nighttime pedestrian fatalities increased by 67%, compared to a 16% increase in daytime fatalities.
  • Unsafe driving is a huge factor in pedestrian accidents and fatalities. In fact, more than half of all pedestrian deaths were the result of unsafe driving, such as speeding, distracted and drowsy driving, and alcohol impairment.
  • Unsurprisingly, pedestrians struck by a large SUV are twice as likely to die as those struck by a car or smaller vehicle. Pedestrian fatalities caused by a large SUV have increased 81% in the last 10 years.
  • In 2020, there was a 13.2% decrease in vehicle miles traveled (VMT), yet an unprecedented 21% increase in pedestrian deaths. This increase is likely due to the increase in risky driving during the pandemic.

Common Accident Victim Injuries

Pedestrians involved in an accident with a motor vehicle can suffer serious injuries or even death. Pedestrians are at a greater risk for serious long-term injuries because they are exposed to a high-impact collision and do not have the same protection or safety that a driver has in a vehicle.

Common pedestrian accident injuries include:

  • Broken bones: Broken bones and fractures, especially in the lower extremities, are extremely common injuries after a pedestrian is hit by a car. While treatable, broken bones can cause long-term discomfort and pain, or create mobility issues.
  • Traumatic brain injuries: Traumatic brain injuries are caused when there is sudden blunt force or a violent blow to the head. Brain injuries can result in months of treatment and rehabilitation, and, sometimes, long-term or permanent cognitive impairment.
  • Amputations: If a pedestrian is struck and pinned against another object, or if the force of the accident causes severely crushed bones, the accident victim could suffer an accidental amputation. Amputations have lifelong repercussions and almost always impact a victim’s ability to return to their normal routine, both in every-day activities and at the workplace.
  • Death: Pedestrians that are hit by a car are at a high risk of death. The vulnerability of a pedestrian combined with the impact of a vehicle can be catastrophic and result in a wrongful death.

Pedestrian accidents can cause serious injuries, or worse, a fatality. If you were involved in an accident as a pedestrian, you may have the right to compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Before talking to the insurance company, consult with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys about your bodily injury case.

Pedestrian Safety

At some point, everyone is a pedestrian. We walk around cities, towns, and even our neighborhoods—either for exercise or to get from one point to another. When walking, it’s important to keep safety in mind to avoid an accident with a motor vehicle.

Pedestrian accidents are caused by various circumstances, including distracted driving, impaired driving, poor or damaged infrastructure, and reduced visibility (i.e., walking at night), among others. While you can’t control the actions of others, you can reduce your risk of being hit by a car by following a few safety tips.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends:

  • Be predictable, follow the rules of the road and obey traffic signs.
  • Use sidewalks when available. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far away from the road as possible.
  • Be alert! Do not wear headphones or use your phone when walking.
  • Make eye contact with drivers – never assume they see you.
  • Wear bright clothing so you are visible to drivers, especially at dusk or at night. If you are walking at night, wear reflective clothing and use a flashlight.
  • Use crosswalks. If a crosswalk is not available, use a well-lit area to cross the road. You should be able to easily see traffic in both directions, too. Do not attempt to cross a road near a turn.

Walking safely can help reduce your chances of being in an accident with a vehicle. Sometimes accidents do happen, so if you are in a collision with a car, be sure to seek medical attention and consult with a personal injury law firm so they can help you understand your rights and seek compensation for your losses, damages and injuries.

Pedestrian Accident Personal Injury Attorney in Lancaster County

At Georgelis, Larsen & Sabatino Injury Law Firm, P.C., we understand the pain and devastation that follow a pedestrian accident. Accident victims can face weeks, months or even years of recovery, including medical appointments, physical and occupational therapy, and even surgery. Medical bills can pile up, and many accident victims are unable to work. If you were injured in a pedestrian accident, let us help you with your personal injury case so you can focus on getting better.

Our team of aggressive, yet compassionate, personal injury lawyers in Lancaster have helped pedestrian accident victims get the compensation they deserve. We offer free consultations and do not charge a fee unless we recover money for you. We know how to strongly build your claim to maximize its value with the insurance company.

We can visit you at a hospital, rehabilitation center or your home—whatever is most convenient—and we make ourselves available evenings, nights and weekends so that we can work around your schedule. Call 1-800-HURT-NOW for a no-obligation, free review of your case.


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