U.S. Pedestrian Fatalities Reach Record High

Closeup of a pedestrian using a crosswalk to cross the street.

Pedestrian deaths remained at historically high levels in 2021.

Pedestrian accident fatalities nationwide and in Maine reached record highs last year, according to a recent report published by the Governor's Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) based on accident data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

"Whether looking at preliminary state data for 2021 or investigating the 2020 national FARS data, the trend is clear: more pedestrians are being killed on our nation's roads," the GHSA report states.

Pedestrian fatalities reach a 40-year high.

Pedestrian deaths last year reached their highest level "in a single year in four decades," according to the GHSA study. Specifically, an estimated 7,485 pedestrians were killed in 2021, the most since 1982, when 7,331 pedestrians died due to motor vehicle collisions.

The recent GHSA study was based on actual pedestrian accident fatalities for the first half of 2021 and estimated pedestrian deaths for the year's second half. During the first six months of 2021, pedestrian deaths nationwide increased by 17 percent compared to the same period in 2020.

As for the entire year, pedestrian fatalities increased by 11.5 percent or 774 deaths more than in 2020. That year, 6,711 pedestrians were killed in accidents, despite fewer drivers being on the road due to the pandemic.

Pedestrian deaths in Maine

While the national death toll for pedestrian accidents was high last year, those numbers were even worse in Maine. A total of 20 people were killed in pedestrian accidents statewide in 2021. In contrast, only nine pedestrians were killed in accidents in Maine in 2020.

Percentage-wise, that's a 122.2 percent increase in pedestrian deaths last year in Maine compared to 2020. That percentage increase was the largest of any state in the country last year, according to the GHSA study.

What's driving this trend?

Pedestrian accidents often occur because a driver behaves recklessly or negligently.

According to the recent GHSA study, speeding drivers were primarily responsible for the dramatic increase in pedestrian deaths across the nation. In 2020, speeding-related pedestrian deaths increased by 20 percent (7.2 percent to 8.6 percent) compared to 2019.

Drunk drivers are also to blame for the recent rise in pedestrian fatalities. In 2020, 16.1 percent of pedestrian deaths involved a driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. In contrast, only 13 percent of pedestrian deaths in 2019 involved a driver with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, according to the GHSA study.

Safety tips

There are many different ways drivers can avoid causing a pedestrian accident, such as:

  • Obey the speed limit – Speeding drivers have less time to stop and often cause more severe injuries when they hit pedestrians. Studies have shown that the faster a vehicle travels, the more likely a collision with a pedestrian will be fatal.
  • Don't drink and drive – The dangers of drunk driving are well known. There's no excuse for driving drunk.
  • Pay attention on the road – Drivers must always be focused on driving. That means no texting while driving or engaging in other dangerous forms of distracted driving.

Pedestrian accident attorneys proudly serving Maine.

If you were hit by a car while crossing the street or walking alongside a road, you might think you don't need an attorney to recover your losses. But reckless drivers often don't admit fault, and insurance companies are known for delaying, disputing, and denying claims to save money.

As a result, many claims turn into complicated legal cases. That's when having experienced legal representation to help you find your way forward can make a big difference in the outcome of your case. The best pedestrian accident attorneys know how to hold negligent drivers accountable and advocate for the compensation their clients deserve.

We know what it takes to build a winning case at the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein. Since 1974, our law firm has obtained over $500 million for injured Mainers and secured over 25,000 victories for Maine families.

Put your trust in our highly skilled legal team, and contact us today for a free case evaluation with an experienced Maine pedestrian accident attorney. We have seven offices conveniently located throughout Maine.

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