Motor vehicle accidents and injuries to drivers and passengers more or less remained stable over the past decade. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for pedestrians involved in crashes. According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA), the number of pedestrian deaths in 2019 totaled 6,590 for the highest total in 30 years. This total is a 5% increase over 2018 and an eye-popping 50% higher than in 2009. The number of pedestrian fatalities is now 17% of all road deaths (36,560 in 2018) as opposed to 12% in 2009.
Here in New Jersey, the total went up by 9%, going from 72 deaths to 79 deaths. This percentage places the Garden State in the middle of the percentage of the change list. However, we were still above the national average and ahead of New York (7%), Delaware (6%) and Pennsylvania, which had a significant 17% drop.
Why is this happening?
According to the GHSA’s study, the causes include:
- Distracted driving: This issue has reached epidemic proportions thanks to the rise of smartphones that drivers cannot put down when operating their vehicles.
- SUVs: The popularity of these vehicles has skyrocketed in recent years, but they are harder to maneuver, larger and sit higher up (impacting bodies instead of legs).
- Intoxication: This stubborn problem remains, with 16% of all road fatalities involving intoxicated drivers.
- Road design: Until recently, trends in road design favored traffic flow over safety. Two-thirds of all fatalities occur after dark, which also points to a lack of lighting adequate for seeing pedestrians.
Families may take action
More people are out walking these days, thanks to the shelter at home orders. This, unfortunately, can mean that a healthy activity turns deadly. A deceased pedestrian’s loved ones may be able to take legal action against negligent drivers. They may also name townships or municipalities if the roads are unsafe for those walking. A personal injury attorney can help families determine the best course of legal action.