The National Safety Council’s SafetyAndHealthmagazine.com recently reported that in 2016, the nation recorded the highest number of pedestrian deaths in traffic accidents that it has reported in 40 years. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) began to compile its Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) for these deaths in 1975. The Association is “alarmed by the new numbers.”
“Pedestrians are among our most vulnerable roadway users,” the GHSA said in a statement. We must not forget that the risks we are all facing extend to the sidewalks. These numbers are yet another indication that we must do more to keep each other safe.”
The 5,997 pedestrians killed represents an 11 percent increase over the 2015 national figure of 5,376 and a more than 20 percent increase over the year 2014 when recorded data showed 4,910 pedestrian deaths. This totals comprise about 15 percent of all motor vehicle crash-related fatalities, or one pedestrian killed every two hours and one injured every seven minutes.
Ohio Figures for Pedestrian Deaths
In Ohio, in 2016, according to the Ohio Department of Safety (ODOS), 140 pedestrians were killed and 2,598 were reported injured. The deaths made up 12.4 percent of the 1,133 persons killed in Ohio traffic accidents in 2016. Five years earlier in 2011, there were 99 pedestrian deaths and 1,016 persons killed in traffic accidents in Ohio.
Possible Reasons for Increase
GHSA has named several possible factors contributing to the greater number of pedestrian deaths including:
• An increase in overall vehicle travel
• Cell phone use among drivers and pedestrians
• A gain in popularity in walking to work or walking for health reasons
In Ohio, the highest number of pedestrians killed (22) in 2016 were in the 56 to 60 age group. Twenty of the fatalities were persons under 15 years of age. Another 17 fatalities were persons from age 16 to age 20. Most of the pedestrian deaths occurred in California, Florida, New York and Texas which collectively had 42 percent of all pedestrian fatalities. Wyoming reported only one.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines a pedestrian as any person on foot who is involved in a motor vehicle crash. The majority of deaths occur during normal weather conditions and most do not occur at intersections or crosswalks, the NHTSA indicated.
Responding to the Safety and Health article on increased pedestrian fatalities, a woman commented that many people were not taught as a child how to walk along streets and cross them. She said she lives in a tourist town and has seen people hit because they did not follow safe pedestrian behavior. She said she regularly sees pedestrians who did not stop at street corners and look both ways before crossing. She said they do not appear to understand that large SUVs and pickups “cannot stop on a dime.”
“They do not walk against traffic. They jog on the road in the same direction as the traffic, swerving in and around parked cars. They cannot hear vehicles coming because their ears are plugged with music. They walk across the road while looking at their phones. They disregard crossing lights and jay walk,” she said.
She suggested a campaign to teach people the correct way to interact with traffic and proposed reviving jaywalking tickets.
Traffic Deaths Also Rise
At the same time the NSC says traffic deaths involving cars and other vehicles are showing the largest percentage increase in 50 years. In 2015, 38,300 people were killed on U.S. roads and another 4.4 million sustained injuries that resulted in medical consultation. Deaths rose eight percent from 2014. Factors such as lower unemployment and cheaper gas may account for the increase in miles driven and more accidents, an NSC spokesperson speculated.
NSC research has also shown that the three major causes for fatalities on the road are alcohol, speed and distracted driving with each about 30% responsible for the overall deaths.
What To Do If You Become an Injured Pedestrian
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a pedestrian accident, remember to report any injuries at the scene and ask to go to the hospital if you believe you need to go and are capable of asking for medical help. Keep a record of any treatment you receive following the accident.
Pedestrians who survive encounters with cars, motorcycles, trucks or buses may face serious injuries such as broken bones, traumatic brain injury or spinal cord damage. They will need medical help and a means of paying for it for what could be months, even years. The injured person may also be entitled to past and future lost earnings, property damage and compensation for physical pain and suffering.
Under Ohio law if the injured person contributed to the cause of the accident, he or she may still be able to recover damages if his or her negligence is determined to be 50 percent or less of the cause of the accident. This is called comparative liability.
Injured pedestrians should consider getting expert help from an experienced Ohio personal injury attorney. Our attorneys have fought the battle many times and know how to proceed. They will find out what happened in the accident and who is at fault.
Contact our law firm by calling 1-888-534-4850, chatting with one of our 24-hour live chat representatives or sending us a website message.
All drivers owe a duty to others, including pedestrians, to drive with care. If a driver breaches that duty and drives in a negligent, reckless or careless manner injuring another as a result, the injured person has a right to seek compensation and to get legal help to accomplish that result.