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Pedestrian Deaths Rise Sharply - Is Distraction the Cause?


Pedestrian traffic fatalities reached the highest total in more than two decades, according to recent data. A total of nearly 6000 people were killed, reaching the projected rise of 11% for 2016.

The figures, released on March 23, 2017, are based on data from the first six months of the year, gathered from every state and the District of Colombia, then projected for the rest of the year. Pedestrian deaths during the first six months totaled 2,660 nationwide, compared to 2,486 deaths over the same period the year before. The figures which were prepared for the Governors Highway Safety Association represent the steepest year to year increase ever recorded.

"This is the second year in a row that we have seen unprecedented increases in pedestrian fatalities, which is both sad and alarming," said Richard Retting of Sam Schwartz Transportation Consultants, the author of the report.

Retting continued by saying, "It is critical that the highway safety community understand these disturbing statistics and work to aggressively implement effective countermeasures. The information in this report will help states and localities pursue engineering, enforcement and education solutions to reverse this trend."

Traffic deaths rose 6 percent from 2011 to 2015, to the highest level in nearly a decade according to data released in February 2016 by the National Safety Council. It was estimated that there were more than 40,200 traffic deaths in 2016. This increase was disproportionate against the percentage of increase in pedestrian deaths which shot up by 25 percent over the same period.

There are several factors that are suspect in the disturbing escalation:

· Both drivers and pedestrians are distracted by mobile electronics and other forms of preoccupation. This is thought to be the main reason for the rise

· People are walking more for fitness and environmental concerns

· There is an increase in the number of vehicles on the road due to a better economy and cheaper gas prices

· Alcohol consumption is a factor. 34 percent of all pedestrians killed were intoxicated as were 15 percent of vehicle occupants.

It is likely that the numbers of distracted drivers involved in accidents, including those involving pedestrians is higher than reported because distracted driving is hard to prove and many drivers will not admit to it. The fact that driving and walking is only up a small percentage and alcohol use has not increased, makes a case against distracted driving by the process of elimination.

"It's the only thing that seems to indicate a dramatic change in how people behave," Retting said.

Kelly Nantel, a spokesperson for the safety council said, "We can't look at distracted driving as an in-vehicle issue. That discounts the impact distraction could have on pedestrians. Just as we need drivers to be alert, pedestrians have to be too."

Vititoe Law Group

Vititoe Law Group is a personal injury law firm committed to helping victims of distracted drivers. If you were injured while walking or driving by a suspected distracted driver, reach out to Vititoe Law Group for a free consultation. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Call 818-851-1886 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.

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