A car has a durable metal frame that surrounds its drivers and passengers. Enclosed vehicles also tend to be equipped with safety features like seatbelts and airbags.
These features offer some protection in a car accident. Unfortunately, those who are involved in accidents while on foot have no such protections.
Additionally, statistics indicate pedestrian accidents are becoming increasingly common throughout the United States. This overview will address some of the factors contributing to this trend and what pedestrians can do to avoid becoming victims.
The Significance of the Pedestrian Accident Problem
The degree to which pedestrian accidents are becoming more common can’t be understated. According to a report from the Governors Highway Association, 7,485 pedestrians lost their lives as a result of being struck by vehicles on U.S. roads in 2021. This marks the highest rate of annual pedestrian deaths in four decades.
This number also doesn’t include pedestrian accidents that aren’t fatal. Many pedestrians who are involved in accidents survive, only to be left with debilitating injuries.
Why Pedestrian Accidents Are Becoming More Common Across the Country
Numerous factors may account for why pedestrian accidents are on the rise. The following are merely among the more noteworthy:
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals distracted driving has become a more common cause of all types of motor vehicle accidents in recent years. This is almost certainly due in part to the rise of smartphone ownership. Our digital devices have made our lives more convenient, but they’ve also prevented many of us from paying attention while driving.
That said, pedestrian smartphone usage also plays a role in accidents. Those walking on or near roads must keep themselves safe by focusing on their surroundings instead of their devices.
Additionally, factors such as GPS can have a surprising impact on pedestrian accident rates. Although GPS should help guard against accidents by preventing confusion on the road, there’s reason to believe some drivers are so distracted by GPS directions that they actually become more likely to be involved in accidents.
Early data shows that speeding surged during the pandemic. This trend has not appeared to reverse.
Pandemic lockdowns resulted in emptier roads. This may have made drivers feel more comfortable ignoring speed limits. Speeding can increase the chances of pedestrian accidents occurring by decreasing drivers’ ability to stop in time to avoid collisions with pedestrians.
Research also indicates that intoxicated driving increased during the pandemic. This trend appeared to be fairly pronounced during the final days of major lockdowns. It’s possible that those who had not been driving as frequently were now drinking more often at home (as this may have also been a means of coping with pandemic stress).
Intoxication slows reaction times and prevents drivers from being able to spot pedestrians on the road. This is particularly true at night, when pedestrians are already more difficult to see and drunk driving is more common.