Pedestrian fatalities have been on the rise over the last few years. This is despite an overall decline in fatal crashes. In 2018, there were approximately 6,283 pedestrian deaths reported across the United States. That’s a three percent increase from 2017.
Some safety advocates speculate that an increase in SUVs (which have been shown to be dangerous to pedestrians) and roadway infrastructure that primarily favors cars may be the cause.
Many impoverished urban areas are hit especially hard. This is due to neglected roadway infrastructure and lack of safety resources. Angie Schmitt is an author and former Streetsblog USA editor, and sustainable transportation expert. She says this is a problem that is not getting nearly as much attention as it should.
What resources are necessary to prevent pedestrian deaths?
Schmitt recently published a book entitled “Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America.” In a recent interview with Streetsblog, she discusses critical issues affecting pedestrian safety, which is highlighted in her book.
“There are about 10 times as many pedestrian deaths a year as cyclists,” she said. “But they don’t have the same kind of resources and support. I think that’s because a lot of people who walk in a lot of parts of the U.S. are poor, and marginalized in other ways as well — race, disability status, age, immigration status, etc. Another realization I had after years of reporting is that people who lose loved ones to traffic deaths don’t get their stories told.”
Schmitt highlighted two key resources that should be made available to pedestrians:
- Adequate lighting. About three quarters of pedestrian fatalities happen at night due to poor visibility. That's why it's important that adequate street lighting is installed in areas where pedestrians access the road.
- Pedestrian amenities. There are plenty of infrastructural features that accommodate vehicular traffic. There aren’t enough to accommodate pedestrian safety. Schmitt suggests installing pedestrian islands, retimed “Walk” signals, curb ramps and other infrastructural features that promote pedestrian safety.
In order to ensure that these resources are made available to pedestrians — especially those in poor urban areas — Schmitt says that pedestrian safety audits need to be conducted. This process should include the local community.
"After doing all this, I know what to look for, what the problems might be, whether it’s lighting, or the placement of the bus stops, or whatever. But, also, it’s a very localized problem. So that process, the walking audit or pedestrian safety audit, is really about involving local folks, street users in the planning process. And also it gets public officials to experience the street on foot — and that lack of experience is a big part of the political problem around this, I think," said Schmitt.
What are your legal rights if you were hit by a car?
It's unfortunate that pedestrians are not provided with the right safety resources in areas where they are needed the most. In many cases, pedestrians are hurt or killed by drivers who are inattentive, speeding, impaired or behaving recklessly.
That's why the legal team at The Law Offices of Joe Bornstein in Maine is dedicated to helping injured pedestrians and their families get the justice they deserve. If you were injured after being struck by a negligent driver, or if you lost a loved one, our experienced attorneys will fight to help you get the compensation you deserve.
Contact us online to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation.