Traffic collisions involving cars have declined throughout the U.S. annually for the third year in a row, according to 2019 preliminary estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This may seem like good news for drivers, but not so much for pedestrians. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), there were 17 pedestrian deaths each day across the U.S. during 2018. This marked a 43 percent rise over a 10-year period.
The GAO speculates that there are a few critical reasons as to why we're seeing an increase in pedestrian deaths. The agency first addressed poor communication from the NHTSA regarding pedestrian safety tests.
The GAO scrutinized NHTSA crash data released from 2008-2018 and concluded that SUVs were the type of vehicle most involved in pedestrian deaths. From 2009-2016, SUV-related pedestrian deaths rose by 81 percent, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. SUVs are more deadly to pedestrians than smaller cars because:
- Their high front ends tend to do more upper body damage to pedestrians.
- SUVs weigh more than smaller cars, and therefore, inflict more damage in a crash.
According NHTSA reports and interviews, the agency's New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) pedestrian safety tests involved car manufacturers that accounted for 70 percent of new car sales. The GAO addressed a lack of communication on safety measures for pedestrians.
In response, the GAO recommended that the NHTSA:
- Make improvements to its pilot program
- Consider the inclusion of pedestrian safety tests in its NCAP
- Provide documentation for NCAP changes
Roadway infrastructure is unfavorable for pedestrians
Another critical factor in the rise in pedestrian deaths is unfavorable road infrastructure. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) about 54 percent of pedestrian deaths occur in urban areas. In addition:
- 67 percent happen on highways
- 50 percent happen at non-intersections
- 56 percent happen at night
The IIHS has suggested some infrastructural changes to help minimize the likelihood of pedestrian deaths:
- Implement safe crossing areas on main roads
- Install pedestrian-activated beacons to make drivers more aware of pedestrians
- Install sidewalks where needed
- Build extensions with median crossings on some sidewalks
- Enforce speed limits with speed cameras
- Improve lighting at night
- Install better headlights on cars
- Make pedestrian detection technology standard in cars
- Make SUV front ends safer to minimize pedestrian harm
Pedestrian accident attorneys serving clients in Seattle
If you or a loved one have been injured by a negligent driver, get an experienced Seattle pedestrian accident attorney on your side to help you pursue justice and fair compensation.
Pedestrian accidents often result in severe and life-threatening injuries. That's because pedestrians don't have the same protections as drivers (seat belts, airbags, protective frames, etc.). Let our attorneys help maximize your compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and other accrued damages. To learn more, contact us online or call our Seattle office at (206) 623-7520.