Pedestrian deaths are making up an increasing percentage of U.S. traffic fatalities, especially here in the Sunshine State. Florida has long held the dubious distinction of having the highest number of pedestrian accident fatalities in the country.
Now, according to new research released by the Governors Highway Safety Association, preliminary 2015 data shows that in the first half of the year, there was a 10 percent increase in the number of pedestrians killed nationally, as compared to the first half of 2014. If that same momentum holds true for the rest of 2015, it would mean the single highest year-over-year increase since the GHSA began collecting fatality data more than 40 years ago.
In an average year, an estimated 5,000 people are killed in America while walking. While we have seen death rates for occupants of passenger vehicles drop over the years, the rate of pedestrian deaths has not. In fact, it is climbing.
At this point, pedestrian deaths make up 15 percent of all traffic fatalities nationally. Compare that to 10 years ago, when it was 11 percent.
According to 2013 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 4,735 pedestrians killed, accounting for 14 percent of all traffic deaths. Another 66,000 were injured. That year, a pedestrian was injured every 8 minutes in the U.S. and one died every two hours.
Florida had the second-highest percentage of pedestrian traffic deaths per 100,000 population that year – 2.56. The No. 1 state, Delaware, had a percentage of 2.70, but still far fewer traffic deaths – 25 total that year, compared to Florida’s 501. California, which had the most pedestrian accident deaths with 701, had a per-population percentage of 1.52.
More recently, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FDHSMV) indicated there has been a significant year-over-year increase in Florida from 2013 to 2014. In 2013, the state reported 498 pedestrian traffic deaths (a slight disparity from the 501 reported to the federal government). But then in 2014, the agency tallied 606 pedestrian deaths – an increase of nearly 21 percent in a single year. As far as pedestrian injuries, the state counted 7,467 in 2013 compared to 7,737 in 2014 – an increase of nearly 4 percent.
As far as why this is happening, there are no concrete answers, but the GSHA cites a few viable theories. Those include:
- More people are walking than ever before. Approximately 1 million more people walked to work in 2013 as compared to 2015. That is about a 21 percent uptick. That just calculates commuters walking to work, but it’s likely more people are walking overall.
- Vehicles continue to get safer, but pedestrians remain as vulnerable as ever. Technology may improve safety for those inside a vehicle, but it does little to help those who are struck by vehicles. In fact, some technology – such as those that make vehicles quieter – may in fact be more dangerous to pedestrians.
- More people are driving. The Federal Highway Administration estimates the number of driving trips increased nearly 4 percent in the first six months of 2015, and that increase is believed to have continued as gas prices have reduced.
- Driver distraction. This is a problem for both those in cars but especially pedestrians. And it’s not just smartphones either. There are in-dash displays, GPS devices and other technology that are constantly competing for driver attention. It makes all of us less safe.
If you have been hurt in a Palm Beach pedestrian accident, call us today to learn more about how we can help you recover compensation for your injuries.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact the Hollander Law Firm at (888) 751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.
Pedestrian Deaths Make Up a Rising Share of U.S. Traffic Fatalities, March 9, 2016, By Angie Schmitt, USA.streetsblog.org
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