Summer is Here…and So Are Pedestrian Accidents
On average, a pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every seven minutes in traffic crashes. Fourteen percent of all traffic fatalities and an estimated 3 percent of those injured in traffic crashes were pedestrians.” (Traffic Safety Facts: Pedestrians, April 2014). US Dept of Transportation, National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
Chicago is a great walking city with lively neighborhoods, level terrain, beautiful parks, and other features. When the weather is pleasant, greater numbers of people on foot are outside and unfortunately more pedestrians are injured or killed in collisions with vehicles during summer months. People are vulnerable in crashes involving motor vehicles because physically exposed and thus likely to be severely injured or killed when hit by a truck or car.
123 deaths occurred in 2014 in Illinois. 35 fatalities were in the City of Chicago. The situation unfortunately did not improve in 2015 when there were 46 pedestrian fatalities in Chicago. Pedestrians in Chicago are twice as likely to be killed in a hit-and-run vehicle accident than anywhere else in the nation. With a goal of zero annual pedestrian deaths by 2021, the Chicago Department of Transportation put together a comprehensive Pedestrian Plan.
Chicago’s Pedestrian Accident Reduction Plan
This is an impressive, comprehensive plan.
An analysis of pedestrian accidents between 2005 and 2009 showed that 78 percent of all pedestrian accidents happened either in or near crosswalks. The Pedestrian Plan thus calls for improvements to crosswalk markings so that they will be more clearly visible to drivers and therefore increase pedestrian safety. There will be more signals and beacons with pedestrian refuge islands. A refuge island is a protected area that allows pedestrians to cross one direction of traffic flow at a time. It is more than just a median, but a wider protected and sheltered area.
Pedestrian Injury Facts
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has analyzed the different factors contributing to pedestrian accidents and compiled the Traffic Safety Facts for pedestrians. The report cautions motorists on the most common errors that can eliminate pedestrian injuries if drivers increase their awareness of these causes of pedestrian collisions..
Most Common Driver Errors
Investigation of vehicle pedestrian collisions reveals the following:
- Distracted driving. Common examples are talking on a cell phone, texting, emailing eating, adjusting the radio, putting on make-up and even shaving.
- Going too fast. A driver can be going too fast even if traveling the speed limit if the road conditions, surrounding conditions or bad weather make the speed unsafe.
- Turning without looking for pedestrians.
- Turning without signaling the intent to turn.
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Safety starts with awareness. Drivers who keep in mind these common causes of collisions with pedestrians are more likely to avoid potentially fatal collisions.
National Highway Transportation Safety Administration
The NHTSA has published the following general information of interest:
- More than one-fourth of all accidents occur between the hours of 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
- In nearly 50 percent of all motor vehicle and accidents involving pedestrians, the use of alcohol was a factor.
- Hit-and-run drivers were involved in 18 percent of all pedestrian accidents.
- More senior citizen pedestrians are killed than children.
- The average age of people who are killed in pedestrian accidents is 47.
- Male pedestrians are more likely to be killed than female ones.
The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) recently released a report of a two-year study on pedestrian fatalities. The results are not encouraging. Nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed in 2017, which is a 25-year high.
This is particularly alarming when compared to other deaths in traffic accidents, which are decreasing. Between 2007 and 2016, nationwide pedestrian fatalities increased by 27 percent. All other traffic fatalities decreased by 14 percent. The GHSA reports that pedestrian fatalities “now account for the largest proportion of traffic fatalities in the last 33 years.”
Primary Causes for the Surge in Pedestrian Deaths
Both the GHSA and the Active Transportation Alliance (ATA), a Chicago group that advocates for better “walking, cycling and public transportation options” note some of the primary reasons for the increase in pedestrian deaths.
- Speeding drivers.
- Failure of drivers to yield.
- Distractions by drivers and pedestrians.
The deputy director of ATA found that this distraction is readily observable in drivers and pedestrians in downtown Chicago during rush hour. She states that one thing in common among the scores of pedestrians crossing the busy streets is that “their eyes are down, staring at their phones.”
Other Factors That May Contribute to the Increase in Pedestrian Accidents
The GHSA suggested marijuana use may contribute to the increase in fatalities since, in the first half of 2017, pedestrian deaths increased in states, like Colorado, that had voted to legalize recreational marijuana. But, when state-level data for all of 2016 was considered, this did not seem to play a factor.
Alcohol, on the other hand, played a significant role. Eighteen percent of drivers who hit and killed pedestrians, and 38 percent of pedestrians who died, all had alcohol levels above the legal driving limit.
Who to Contact
If you were injured or someone you love was killed in a pedestrian accident, you may need the services of a pedestrian accident attorney. You need an advocate who will investigate and discover whether a driver or owner or both should be held liable for your accident. Please consider contacting the Chicago attorneys at the Blumenshine Law Group for a free consultation and case evaluation.