Pedestrian deaths have been on the rise in the United States. California, together with four other states that make up 33% of the population, accounts for nearly half of all pedestrian deaths in the U.S.
Changes in other motor vehicle accident data
According to the Federal Highway Administration, there was 0.8% more motor vehicle travel in the first half of 2019 than there was in 2018, which would lead you to expect a corresponding slight increase in all motor vehicle accidents. However, non-pedestrian traffic deaths have gone up only 2% over the past decade. In fact, in 2018, the number of passenger deaths attributable to motor vehicle accidents was actually 25% lower than it was in 1975, likely as a result of improved vehicle safety features.
By contrast, pedestrian fatalities were 53% higher in 2018 than they were in 2009. Based on estimates by the Governors Highway Safety Association, which looked at data through the first half of 2019, that number was expected to rise by 60% by the end of 2019.
Why the increased risk to pedestrians?
There are various reasons why people may be more at risk of pedestrian accidents. For one, drivers have become more distracted because of increased use of cell phones while driving. Additionally, many vehicle safety features that have improved conditions for passengers have no benefit for pedestrians. One surprising contribution to pedestrian deaths could be the increase in SUV sales. Light trucks and SUVs — which are said to be twice as likely to kill a pedestrian as other types of vehicles — comprised 69% of all new car sales in 2018 as compared to 48% in 2009.
Some groups have started to look at ways to improve pedestrian safety with things like Vision Zero programs. Even as conditions improve, pedestrians must be vigilant and take extra care when walking at night, which is when more accidents occur. If you have been involved in a pedestrian or other motor vehicle accident, you may want to consult with a personal injury attorney regarding possible compensation available to you for damages.