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Pedestrian Deaths Skyrocket to Highest Levels in Over Four Decades

Pedestrians crossing street in a city crosswalk.

Last year, fatalities from pedestrian accidents soared to the highest single-year total in more than four decades, sparking concerns among traffic safety advocates who fear that pedestrians’ lives remain at risk on the road.

According to the introduction of the recent pedestrian accident study conducted by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), this alarming trend continues the upward trajectory that the United States has been experiencing for decades, marking the highest number of pedestrian deaths since 1981.

The question arises: why were pedestrian accident deaths so high in 2022? In Ohio, the problem is significant, with an increase in pedestrian fatalities in recent years. For example, the GHSA reports that 92 pedestrians died in Ohio in 2021, compared to only 50 pedestrian fatalities recorded in 2013, reflecting an 84 percent increase between 2013 and 2021.

Pedestrian accident deaths set new record

Every year, the GHSA releases a comprehensive report detailing the number of pedestrian accidents both nationwide and in each state. This report relies on accident data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Alarmingly, in 2022, the number of pedestrian fatalities reached 7,508, marking the highest single-year death toll since 1981, as reported by the GHSA.

Jonathan Adkins, the chief executive officer of the GHSA, emphasized the severity of the issue, stating in a Forbes article that: “Every day, 20 people go for a walk and do not return home. These are people living their daily lives – commuting to and from school and work, picking up groceries, walking the dog, getting some exercise – who died suddenly and violently.”

Adding to the gravity of the situation, last year’s pedestrian death toll continues an ongoing trend over the past decade. The GHSA’s study reveals an alarming increase in pedestrian fatalities, with a 77 percent rise since 2010. The years between 2019 and 2022 alone witnessed a 19 percent spike, according to the GHSA.

How bad are pedestrian accidents in Ohio?

The recent GHSA report brings both positive and concerning news regarding pedestrian fatalities in Ohio. On a positive note, the numbers show a decrease in pedestrian deaths last year, with 166 fatalities reported in 2022. This marks a 2.9 percent reduction compared to the previous year, when 171 people died in Ohio pedestrian accidents.

However, the statistics also shed light on a more troubling trend. Despite the decrease in 2022, the number of pedestrian fatalities remains dramatically higher than a decade ago in Ohio. To put this into perspective, in 2013, there were 85 pedestrian fatalities in the state, meaning that there has been an increase of 95.2 percent in the number of pedestrian deaths from 2013 to 2022, even when comparing 2022 to the reduced figure of 2021.

Why do so many pedestrian accidents happen?

Traffic safety experts attribute the persistent rise in pedestrian fatalities to a combination of factors. One prominent factor is the prevalence of larger vehicles on today’s roads, particularly SUVs, as discussed in a recent episode of Freakonomics that explored the surge in pedestrian deaths. SUVs, when involved in pedestrian accidents, tend to have a higher likelihood of causing fatal outcomes due to their design and size.

However, several primary contributors stand out as the main reasons behind the recent increase in pedestrian fatalities. First, speed plays a significant role in approximately 8 percent of pedestrian fatalities, as indicated by the GHSA report. Speeding drivers also present a dangerous risk to pedestrians, particularly in urban areas and busy intersections.

Likewise, drunk driving remains a major concern, accounting for an estimated 19 percent of pedestrian deaths. The impairment caused by alcohol significantly increases the likelihood of fatal pedestrian accidents.

Finally, while precise statistics on distracted driving’s impact are challenging to gather, the consensus among traffic safety experts is that distractions, notably texting while driving, have emerged as a leading cause of pedestrian accidents in recent years.

What can be done to prevent pedestrian accidents?

As part of its recent annual report, the GHSA offered several suggestions for preventing pedestrian accidents:

  • Install more streetlights, especially at crosswalks.
  • Lower the speed limits at locations where pedestrian accidents often occur.
  • Design roads with everyone who uses them in mind, including pedestrians.
  • Build more sidewalks since many pedestrian accidents occur on streets without them.
  • Increase police enforcement of speeding and drunk driving.
  • Educate drivers, especially young ones, about the dangers pedestrians face on the road.

Another recent study found that pedestrian accidents often occur on a small number of streets, according to the recent Freakonomics radio program about pedestrian deaths last year. This is why road safety experts interviewed on the radio show recommended improving pedestrian safety on streets with the most pedestrian accidents.

Why should I hire a pedestrian accident attorney?

Pedestrian accident claims in Ohio can quickly turn into complicated legal cases. Often, it’s because the driver who caused the accident denies doing anything wrong, especially if they were drunk or texting. Other times, the at-fault driver’s insurance company goes out of its way to pay you as little as possible or nothing at all. They do this by questioning the severity of injuries, disputing fault, and using intentional delay tactics when handling your claim.

At Merriman Legal, LLC, we understand the unique challenges pedestrian accident victims face, and we are here to help you find your way forward. With years of experience handling complex legal cases, our attorneys will fight for the justice and financial compensation you deserve.

If you were hit by a car or your loved one was involved in a Cleveland pedestrian accident, don’t hesitate to seek our help. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation to learn more about your potential legal options. We are conveniently located on West 9th Street in Cleveland and handle injury claims throughout Ohio.

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