The Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) announced that according to statistics, pedestrian fatalities during 2018 are on track to be the highest in any year since 1990. Based upon the first six months during 2018, there are projected to be 6,277 pedestrian fatalities in 2018.
Statistically, there were about 6,482 pedestrian fatalities in the United States in 1990. The number of annual pedestrian fatalities thereafter continued to decrease in most years, and hit a low point in 2009, when there were just over 4,000 fatalities. From 2009 to 2018, however, such fatalities skyrocketed, to the more than 6,200 projected fatalities in 2018.
The annual number of pedestrian fatalities increased a staggering 50% during the last nine years. Moreover, in a four-year time span (between 2013 and 2017), pedestrian fatalities from SUVs increased by 50%, while those from sedans increased by approximately 30%.
Virtually all pedestrian-vehicle crashes pose the possibility of serious injury and death. While the statistics are not clear, it may be that SUVs and higher profile vehicles pose a greater risk of pedestrian death than crashes involving sedans, as in the case of a higher profile vehicle, the initial impact will likely be to the chest and head of the pedestrian, rather than the lower portion of the body.
According to the GHSA, there were 38 pedestrian deaths in Massachusetts during the first six months of 2018, compared to the first six months of 2017. This represents a 9% increase in pedestrian deaths, although the report did not state whether this increase was statistically significant.
Notably, Hawaii was the state with the largest percent increase in pedestrian deaths from 2017 to 2018. During the first six months of 2017, there was only 1 pedestrian death in that state, while there were 19 pedestrian deaths in the first six months of 2018. This represents a 1800% increase.
While there is not any definitive data on the exact causes of pedestrian fatalities, it is likely that such increase is due to driver distraction, including texting.
As phone apps and text messaging have been increasing during the past decade, negligent driver conduct (like texting and reading emails) is likely a large factor contributing to the increase in pedestrian fatalities. This is particularly the case as some studies have found that distracted driving is roughly the equivalent of driving drunk.
In addition to using cell phones, drivers in new cars also have an increased ability to engage in all sorts of activities not related to the control of their vehicle. Many new cars now are integrated with smart phones, allowing drivers to hear and send text messages, manage and play saved songs, see maps, and engage in many other activities through their phone without actually picking up the phone itself.
In response to the dangers of texting and other phone usage, many states have made texting illegal. Even though a driver may not pick up a phone, composing and sending a text or engaging in similar activities by voice activation while driving undoubtedly is a major distraction, which can result in the driver not paying full attention to the road and their surroundings. Tragically, these few seconds of inattention can quickly result in the loss of life to a pedestrian.
I am committed to holding drivers, municipalities, and others liable and demanding full compensation when pedestrians are injured or killed as the result of negligence. To learn more about recovering damages in a pedestrian-vehicle collision, please call my firm to schedule a free consultation, and to learn about whether you have a case and options available for pursuing compensation.