Pedestrian Fatalities Increase Again in 2017

One of the first things most people learn is to look both ways before crossing the street. It’s good, timeless advice, even in an era when children learn how to finger swipe a touch screen before they’ve been given freedom to cross the street on their own.

Looking before crossing, though, is a pedestrian precaution. When walkers and drivers interact, both parties need to be aware. Statistics for 2016 and 2017 show a measurable rise in pedestrian deaths.

Sobering statistics

Analyzing data from all 50 states, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reports approximately 6,000 deaths occurred last year in pedestrian-car accidents. Pedestrians account for 16 percent of car accident-related deaths, a rise from 11 percent a few years ago.

There are many causes of car accidents when pedestrians are involved, but given how the two parties interact, accidents often come down to driver attention. When a driver takes his or her eyes off the road, even for a split second, it makes a difference. A car travels roughly one football field in the time it takes to read a text message.

What is causing the increase?

GHSA echoes national concern about inattentive drivers. Its conclusion: smartphones and marijuana use are contributing factors. These conclusions compare data, namely the 236 percent increase in smartphone usage since 2010 nationally, and that pedestrian-car accidents specifically rose in states with legal recreational marijuana usage. The study doesn’t draw a direct connection between these causes, but it sees correlation between data.

Responsibility and accountability

Marijuana is not legal in Indiana, but smartphones are part of everyday life for all ages. Sometimes drivers and pedestrians make mistakes but, more often, one of the parties isn’t acting responsibly. Both sides in these accidents need to be careful even while performing something as routine as crossing the street or driving to work.

One accident will change everyone’s life for the worse. While both pedestrians and cars have rules to help ensure their safety, pedestrians are far more vulnerable to serious injury when an accident occurs. A driver who is looking at their phone or driving under the influence should be held accountable for their negligent actions.