Are initiatives to curb pedestrian deaths effective?

Cutting-edge traffic engineering improvements to reduce accidents involving pedestrians have taken various forms. Median islands, traffic signal adjustments, and speed reductions should have played a role in reducing deaths.

Other measures to keep walkers safe involve cutting-edge crash avoidance features in motor vehicles. Forward collision avoidance systems continue to grow in their sophistication in detecting a pedestrian in the path of an oncoming car or truck. The front vehicle structure has undergone modifications to reduce the severity of a collision.

A shocking increase in fatalities

Yet, despite all those efforts and the millions of dollars spent, pedestrian fatalities skyrocketed 59 percent compared to the statistical low point in 2009 of 17 percent. In 2020, more than 6,500 pedestrians lost their lives, with 55,000 suffering serious injuries, accounting for 17 percent of fatalities.

SUVs, pickups, vans, and minivans are most likely to strike pedestrians during turns. Increased vehicle speeds are doing more harm than good, particularly with walkers not having the luxury of a steel enclosure.

Miles-per-hour plays a role as well, with a study of pedestrian collisions leading to severe injuries revealing the following:

  • Ten percent at 17 mph
  • Twenty-five percent at 25 mph
  • Fifty percent at 33 mph
  • 75 percent at 41 mph
  • 90 percent at 48 mph

Proactive steps are paramount

Initiatives to reduce miles per hour, particularly in urban areas, include adding traffic calming devices that include speed humps and multiway stop signs to help to reduce the speeds of cars and trucks turning left. In addition, reducing speed limits on city streets can potentially decrease the number of vehicles traveling at high speeds.

Initiatives aside, the actions or inactions of a driver can mean the difference between safe travel and tragedy. Whether distracted or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a collision between a motor vehicle and a pedestrian can lead to a catastrophe that may require the help of a personal injury lawyer.

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