There are several reasons that many people today choose to walk during their daily routines. For some, they enjoy the leisure time outdoors; others are concerned about pollution, and some simply do so out of necessity. Overall, the benefits of walking generally outweigh any drawbacks.
However, a recent report from the Governors Highway Safety Association revealed some troubling findings. Statistics show that the rates of fatal pedestrian accidents are on the rise all around the nation. Fortunately, researchers have explanations that may help keep you and your loved ones safe.
What do the numbers say about pedestrian accidents?
First, let's look at exactly what the GHSA says their research concluded. The study found that pedestrian fatalities increased by four percent between 2017 and 2018. Expanding further, the report found that the rate increased 35% from 2008 to 2018. Last year was the highest rate of pedestrian fatalities in almost 30 years. Though Georgia didn't have the highest rate of fatalities for pedestrians, it and four other states combined accounted for 46% of these deaths. Experts have several theories on why the rates rose so drastically across the country.
Why is this happening?
One proposed theory for the increase is the rise in popularity of larger vehicles such as SUVs and trucks. Though these passenger vehicles are extremely useful, there is no denying that their larger size and weight can cause greater harm to a pedestrian hit by one. One study found that the number of SUVs involved in fatal pedestrian accidents rose by 50% since 2013.
Poor driving habits are another possibility. Smartphone use immediately comes to mind since they have gained in popularity over the last few decades. Other potential sources in this category include drowsiness, speeding and intoxicated driving. One study found that the latter was a factor in half of pedestrian deaths in 2017.
More people means more risk
One last theory that experts presented is that the population has increased overall. This means that, naturally, more people will be on the roads as both motorists and pedestrians. The 10 states that reported the biggest increases in population from 2017 to 2018 saw their rate of pedestrian deaths rise by 5% when comparing the first six months of each of those years. Another study found a 4% increase in the percentage of people who walk to work. It stands to reason this would factor into crash rates.
What the future may hold
Many cities around the country are exploring solutions to help these figures drop. Updating roadways and enacting new vehicle standards could save lives. Unfortunately, even if all of these changes happen, there will likely always be pedestrian accidents that result in death or injury. If you or a loved one has been hurt in an incident like this one, there are legal options available that could help with recovery.