Traffic fatalities are, on average, declining — but pedestrian deaths are on the rise. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic deaths dropped 2.4% in 2018 alone. That was the second year in a row that government records indicated traffic fatalities were decreasing. At the same time, deaths among pedestrians and bicyclists are the highest they’ve been in nearly 30 years.
Officials lay blame for the increased deaths on various factors. Some say distracted driving (mainly due to cellphone use) is responsible. Others claim that an over-reliance on automatic braking devices and other safety systems may be increasing the number of fatal accidents with pedestrians and cyclists. Some even say the cause may be the increased number of light trucks on the road combined with increased foot traffic and cyclists in urban areas.
Whatever the reason for the increase in fatalities, it’s smart for pedestrians to take precautions. If you’re a walker, jogger or cyclist, you should:
- Stay alert: Make sure that you keep your eyes out for drivers who may not see you. Don’t lose yourself in your music or phone while you’re out and about.
- Stick to safer areas: Whenever possible, use sidewalks, crosswalks and designated walking paths or bike lanes. At night, try to stick to well-lit areas where it’s easier to be seen (and easier to see what might be coming).
- Increase your visibility: Reflective clothing or reflective tape on your shoes, jacket or backpack can help drivers see you — especially in poor light. Even light-colored clothing may help.
- Make eye contact: If you’re going to cross the street, try to make eye contact with the driver of any vehicles you need to pass so that they’re conscious of your presence.
If you or your loved one falls victim to a careless driver while walking or biking, you have every right to expect compensation for your losses. Learn more about what you can do to assert your legal rights.