New data from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) projects that the pandemic has had an impact on the number of pedestrian traffic deaths in 2020. Although data shows that the number of cars on the road has decreased during the pandemic, the projected fatality rate of pedestrian accidents increased by 21%, the largest spike ever recorded since 1975, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System was established.
What’s Driving the Increase in Pedestrian Accidents?
With more people self-isolating and working from home, there is much less traffic especially in urban areas which is seeing the largest increase in pedestrian fatalities. The open roads are giving drivers more opportunities to drive recklessly or distracted. Newsweek reported that many law enforcement agencies are concerned about aggressive driving and speeding, a trend that began in the early days of the pandemic. Sadly, the trend does not seem to be subsiding, even though more drivers are back on the road. In addition, the GHSA’s data also shows that 75% of the pedestrian fatalities in 2019 were after dark when it’s more difficult to see pedestrians.
Driver Safety Tips
As a driver, it’s imperative to drive safely and to pay attention to the road. You risk a pedestrian accident lawsuit when a pedestrian is injured in an accident. When you’re driving, follow traffic laws and don’t speed. Put your phone down and avoid other distractions to make sure you look out for pedestrians. Pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks and intersections. Yield to those who are walking. Make eye contact with pedestrians who are crossing in front of you. Be on the lookout for pedestrians, especially in bad weather conditions or at night. Alcohol impairment was another risk factor for accidents. Don’t drink and drive. Use a ride-sharing service or call a friend to take you home.
4 Walking Safety Tips
Although reckless and distracted drivers are causing many of the accidents, pedestrians need to be aware of their surroundings to stay safe. The California Office of Transportation Safety recommends these steps to protect yourself when you're walking:
- Wear bright-colored clothing to make yourself visible.
- Stay off your phone and avoid other distractions when walking, especially at busy intersections.
- Obey traffic signals. Use crosswalks to cross streets. Watch for turning vehicles.
- Don’t assume drivers can see you.
The GHSA is calling pedestrian safety a public health emergency. According to the California OTS, California’s pedestrian fatality rate is about 25% higher than the national average, putting residents in the state more at risk than most. There is a push to address driver behavior to be more aware of pedestrians, but to fully reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities, everyone on the roads will need to work together to stay safe.
Were You Injured in a Pedestrian Accident?
If you have been injured in an accident due to another’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Call or contact the law offices of O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley to make an appointment with an experienced pedestrian accident attorney who can assess your situation to take the next steps that protect your rights.
Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP