Estimates of pedestrian fatalities from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reveal that through last year, the upward trend in pedestrian accident fatalities has continued. According to news reports, in 2019, pedestrian deaths were up 5% compared to the previous year with 6,590 pedestrians killed, the highest number since 1988. That total translates to 2.0 deaths per 100,000 people, which is the highest number since 1997.
What the Data Shows
Based on this preliminary data, if this estimate holds when the numbers are released later this year, that would amount to a 60% increase in fatalities since 2009. Meanwhile, all other traffic deaths rose by only 2% between 2009 and 2018. Five states – California, Arizona, Texas, Georgia and Florida – accounted for 47% of pedestrian deaths and yet these states make up 33% of the nation’s population. Through June 2019, New Mexico, Hawaii and Florida had the three highest fatality rates per 100,000. On the other hand, Wisconsin, Idaho and Vermont had the three lowest pedestrian fatality rates.
Since 2009, pedestrian deaths have grown year after year following a steady decrease since 1988. A decade ago, in 2009, annual deaths were at 4,109. Through 2018, there has been a 53% increase in pedestrian deaths. The Federal Highway Administration reported that motor vehicle travel increased by 0.8% in the first half of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018.
What’s Causing This Increase?
GHSA says there are a number of possible reasons for this surge in pedestrian deaths including the growing popularity of light trucks and SUVs, warmer weather and an increase in smartphone use while driving. The study notes that in 2009, 48% of new vehicle sales were light trucks and SUVs, but by 2018, that number had risen to 69%. It also says pedestrians who are struck by a large SUV are twice as likely to die as those struck by a car. There is no question that the proliferation of smartphones has also led to an increase in pedestrian accidents.
If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, it is important to remember that you have legal rights. Injured victims can seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, cost of rehabilitation, pain and suffering and emotional distress. At-fault drivers, in addition to facing criminal charges, can also be held financially responsible for the injuries, damages and losses caused. Injured victims and their families would also be well advised to contact an experienced California pedestrian accident lawyer who will stay on top of the official investigation and help protect their legal rights and options.