There is a new study out that finds that pedestrian death tolls continue to increase nationally and now are at the highest levels in 30 years. This means that nearly 6,300 pedestrians were killed on the roads last year. According to news reports here in Ohio, the state had 130 pedestrian deaths and 2,600 injured, which is slightly down from 2017 when there were 145 pedestrian fatalities. Nevertheless, this is a trend since 2013 when it was 88 pedestrians killed on Ohio roads.
The good news is that local law enforcement and city planners are taking this issue seriously by making changes to increase pedestrian safety. These include:
- Enforcing the speed limits
- Adding speed cameras
- Narrowing some roads
- Reducing the number of lanes
- Improved pedestrian crossings
Cities are also adding more street lights and putting in adequate sidewalks that are safer for those on foot.
Where and when it is dangerous
According to experts, most deaths happen at night, with a 45% jump in the number of deaths during this time between 2008 and 2017. This is considerably higher than the 11% increase during daylight hours. Pedestrians are advised to stay off the streets whenever possible and particularly at night to avoid injury or death.
Smartphones and SUVs
Drivers are aware of the impact that smartphones, devices and onboard technology within reach of drivers. Unfortunately, these are the most significant contributor to distracted driving. Analysts point out that sales data regarding smartphones support this — a sales spike of devices since 2009 is tied to increased pedestrian fatalities every year since then.
The other part of the problem is SUVs. American drivers have increasingly embraced SUVs and light trucks, which twice as deadly as regular passenger cars. These larger vehicles are dangerous because:
- They have more power and are less maneuverable than cars
- They are larger and hit people and other vehicles with more force
- They have larger blind spots, including in front of the hood, because they sit higher up than cars
- The increased height also means a higher bumper position, which leads to more fatal injuries to the head or torso
- People drive these vehicles much like they would a car that stops faster and is more maneuverable
Drivers need to be more careful
The safest thing drivers can do is avoid the temptation to use their phone, eat or drink while driving, and not multitask. This is a big ask in the digital age, but pedestrians, bikers and other motorists depend on drivers to take the utmost care when operating a vehicle. Unfortunately, the alternative can be severe and life-changing injuries to the victims.