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Pedestrian Death Toll Reaches Record High

Pedestrian crossing school zone sign with a blurred road in the background.

In 2022, more than 7,500 people died in pedestrian accidents.

Last year, pedestrian fatalities climbed to a level unseen in four decades, marking a 77% surge over the previous decade. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reported this alarming increase in their most recent compilation of pedestrian fatality statistics.

"Every day, 20 people go for a walk and do not return home," Jonathan Adkins, chief executive officer of the GHSA, said in a statement published by Forbes. "These are people living their daily lives – commuting to and from school and work, picking up groceries, walking the dog, getting some exercise – who died suddenly and violently."

Exploring the reasons behind the high number of pedestrian accidents, understanding the severity of the problem, and discussing the importance of drivers sharing the road are all crucial topics. Below, you'll find comprehensive insight on these issues and more, delivered by our experienced pedestrian accident attorneys at Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC.

The most pedestrian fatalities since 1981

The year 2022 saw an unprecedented surge in pedestrian fatalities nationwide, with 7,508 deaths reported by the GHSA. This grim figure represents the highest annual pedestrian death toll since 1981.

Moreover, the fatality count for 2022 exceeded the total for 2019 by 19% and showed a 77% increase from 2010, when the number of nationwide pedestrian fatalities stood at 4,302, as per GHSA statistics.

How bad are pedestrian accidents in Ohio?

Preliminary data from the GHSA suggests that Ohio witnessed 166 pedestrian accident deaths in 2022, a slight decrease of 2.9 percent from the previous year when 171 lives were tragically lost.

The bad news is that such numbers are far higher than they used to be years ago. In 2013, Ohio's pedestrian death toll was 85 fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). So even though there were fewer pedestrian deaths in 2022 compared to 2021, the 2022 figure is still 95 percent higher compared to 2013.

Why do pedestrian accidents happen?

Pedestrian accidents can arise from a multitude of different circumstances, but most commonly, they are a result of reckless or negligent driving, including:

  • Speeding: Speeding contributes to approximately 8 percent of pedestrian fatalities. It not only shortens the driver's reaction time but also intensifies the impact of a collision, often turning what could have been a minor incident into a deadly one.
  • Drunk driving: Drunk driving is another major factor responsible for nearly 19 percent of pedestrian deaths. Alcohol impairs a driver's judgement, coordination, and reflexes, increasing the likelihood of accidents with pedestrians.
  • Distracted driving: This includes risky behavior such as texting while driving, particularly in busy intersections or crosswalks. Drivers looking at their devices instead of the road fail to pay adequate attention to their surroundings, making them a potential threat to pedestrians and other road users.
  • Aggressive driving: Some drivers display a lack of courtesy towards pedestrians. They fail to respect pedestrians' legal right to cross the street or walk alongside the road, endangering those who rely on drivers to follow traffic laws for their safety. Aggressive maneuvers, ignoring traffic signals, or failing to yield can lead to tragic consequences.

Remember that pedestrians are particularly vulnerable in crashes due to their lack of physical protection compared to those in vehicles. Without the safety features afforded by enclosed vehicles, such as seatbelts, airbags, and crumple zones, pedestrians bear the full brunt of any collision. This vulnerability often results in severe injuries or even fatalities when pedestrians are involved in accidents with vehicles.

What can be done to prevent pedestrian accidents?

The GHSA has proposed several strategies to mitigate pedestrian accidents across the nation, including:

  • Promote pedestrian safety education: Emphasize the significance of pedestrian safety during driver's education courses. Drivers should be well aware of their responsibilities to share the road safely with pedestrians.
  • Enforce traffic laws rigorously: Amplify law enforcement efforts, particularly those targeting speeding, drunk driving, and texting while driving. Consistent enforcement can deter unsafe driving habits and ensure pedestrian safety.
  • Enhance street lighting: Improve the illumination of areas frequently used by pedestrians. Good lighting reduces the chances of accidents by increasing the visibility of pedestrians to drivers.
  • Advocate for pedestrian-friendly road designs: Encourage the construction of safer roads with pedestrians in mind. This could involve the installation of enhanced crosswalks, pedestrian refuges, and other safety features.

While these efforts can make a difference, it only takes one negligent driver to cause a devastating accident. Therefore, the responsibility of pedestrian safety ultimately lies with each individual behind the wheel, who must commit to sharing the road with people on foot.

Claims involving pedestrian accidents

You might think you don't need an attorney if a driver hit you or another family member while crossing the street or walking alongside a road. However, it's crucial to understand that insurance companies only have their interests at heart.

Their primary goal is to limit their liability and, as a result, the compensation they pay out. Tactics used might include disputing fault, minimizing the severity of injuries, or attempting to suggest that the victim's actions contributed to the accident.

Having an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer on your side can help you navigate these challenges. At Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC, our attorneys are skilled at negotiating with insurance companies, building strong cases, and fighting for the compensation our clients deserve.

To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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Charleston, WV

Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC
10 Hale St Suite 501
Charleston, WV 25301
Phone: (304) 720-1000

Columbus, OH

Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC
20 E Broad St Suite 1000
Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: (614) 587-8423