With spring just around the corner, the weather is starting to warm up in West Virginia and other Appalachian states. This means more people will be out walking to get some exercise and take advantage of the warmer weather. With the increase in foot traffic comes the heightened danger of vehicles crashing into pedestrians, which can result in serious injuries and fatalities.
On average, a pedestrian is killed in the United States every 88 minutes. And in recent years, the number of pedestrian accident fatalities has been on the rise. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that there were 6,283 pedestrian deaths in 2018 (the most recent year we have full records for), which was the highest number of deaths since 1990.
What is especially alarming is that pedestrian accident fatalities in 2018 were approximately 53% higher than the 4109 deaths in 2009, just a decade or so earlier. During that same period, all other traffic-related deaths were down by 6%. Pedestrian fatalities now comprise 16% of all traffic fatalities, which is up from 12% in 2009.
What is Driving the Increase in Pedestrian Accidents?
There are a number of factors that experts say are contributing to the rise in pedestrian accident fatalities, these include:
More People out Walking
One of the simpler explanations for why pedestrian accidents are increasing is there are more pedestrians out walking than ever before. Population growth accounts for some of this, but there are other reasons as well. These days, people are more health conscious, and they are also more conscious of the need to preserve a healthy environment. For this reason, a growing number of individuals are choosing to walk to work or walk to and from public transportation stops that take them to work. Many people also walk outdoors as their primary form of exercise in order to help them stay in shape.
More Vehicles on the Road
In addition to the increase in foot traffic, there has also been an increase in the number of vehicles on the roadways over the past decade. The economic recovery combined with lower fuel prices and easy access to financing has put vehicle ownership within reach for a larger segment of the population.
More Large Vehicles on the Road
The lower fuel prices and strong economy have also led to a growing preference for larger vehicles, such as SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks. For example, in 2013, only about 32% of vehicles on the roads in the US were SUVs. Today, that number is around 50%. Pedestrians have very little protection compared to others on the roads, and large vehicles can cause more serious and catastrophic injuries. In fact, the NHTSA says that SUVs are 2.5 to 3 times more likely to kill a pedestrian than a smaller vehicle. It can also be more difficult for the driver of a large vehicle to see a pedestrian, which increases the chances of an accident in the first place.
In 2007, Apple introduced its first iPhone, and this was the first smartphone to be used widely by consumers. Since that time, several other brands have penetrated the marketplace with price points designed to fit virtually any budget. As a result, today, nearly everyone has a smartphone. And while having a computer in your pocket is great for staying connected, it is not so great for staying focused when you are driving or walking.
Texting while driving or sending other electronic messages while behind the wheel distracts motorists in three ways; visually, manually, and cognitively. The end result is that their focus is taken completely away from the road, causing them to miss important details, such as a pedestrian crossing the road in front of them. Smartphones can be dangerous for pedestrian to use as well as they may be too focused on their phones to watch where they are going.
Injured in a Pedestrian Accident in West Virginia? Contact Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C.
Pedestrian accidents can be some of the deadliest incidents that occur on the roadways, and in the vast majority of cases, a motorist is (at least partially) to blame. If you or a loved one suffered injury in a pedestrian crash, you need strong legal counsel by your side working hard to get you the full and fair compensation you deserve.
If your accident occurred in West Virginia, get in touch with Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. for assistance. Message us online or call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 for a free consultation and case evaluation.