3 Ways to Improve Pedestrian Safety in Michigan
April 2, 2019
Recent statistics reflect a pedestrian safety crisis that continues to escalate. Pedestrians everywhere face greater risks, especially those whose routes require crossing busy streets and roadways.
Here are some alarming facts, based on a new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association:
- In 2018, more pedestrians were killed by motorists than in any year since 1990, when 6,482 pedestrians died.
- 6,227 pedestrians died last year across the U.S., 4% more than in 2017.
- Pedestrians now make up 16% of all road deaths, compared to 12% in 2008.
- While pedestrian deaths rose, the combined number of all other traffic deaths declined by 6%.
- Since 2009, when 4,109 pedestrians were killed, pedestrian deaths have increased by 51.5%.
- In 2018, the majority of pedestrian fatalities (75%) occurred at night.
- An estimated 32% percent of pedestrians who died after being struck by a car had a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher.
What are the reasons behind these disturbing statistics regarding pedestrian safety? Researchers believe the recent and continuing rise in pedestrian deaths is tied to two key factors: the increased popularity of SUVs, and the growing problem of distracted drivers and walkers.
How SUVs Threaten Pedestrian Safety
Between 2013 and 2017, the number of pedestrians killed by SUVs rose 50%. In contrast, the number of pedestrians killed by passenger cars increased by 30% during the same time period.
Pedestrians are who are hit by SUVs are more likely to die or be severely injured than those hit by smaller vehicles.
Here are some of the reasons SUVs are more dangerous than typical passenger cars:
- SUVs are bigger and heavier, generating more force upon impact.
- The higher front-end profile means a pedestrian will likely be hit at chest level or above, causing serious injury or death.
- The high front end also makes it harder for SUV drivers to see people crossing the road on foot.
How Cell Phones Put Pedestrians at Risk
Experts believe there is a direct correlation between the rise in pedestrian deaths and the increased use of cell phones. In 2018, people used 4,000% more cell data than they did 10 years ago. This means drivers and walkers are focusing on their phones instead of paying attention to the road. This takes a deathly toll on pedestrian safety.
After a phone call, it takes the average driver 27 seconds to return to their original task. That’s plenty of time for a crash to occur, even at speeds as low as 40 mph. And, if you add a distracted pedestrian to the equation, the odds of a disaster are even greater.
Improving Pedestrian Safety
While autonomous pedestrian sensor technology exists, it will not be standard equipment in vehicles for many years to come. Further, the growing popularity of SUVs and trucks is not likely to diminish. Therefore, we must come up with other ways of furthering pedestrian safety.
Here are some ideas:
- Lower speed limits in areas frequented by pedestrians. Highway safety experts agree driving at slower speeds is the quickest way to reduce pedestrian deaths. Cities that have enacted lower speed limits, such as New York, have seen pedestrian deaths decrease.
- Stricter distracted driving laws. Some states have enacted legislation prohibiting cell phone use along with any kind of distracted driving. This includes attending to children, putting on make-up or petting a dog.
- Increase public awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and walking. Drivers and pedestrians of all ages, especially teens, should learn about the dangers of using cell phones while driving or walking.
Michigan auto accident law is complicated, but finding the right lawyer is simple.
Call 1-800-CALL-SAM today for a free, no-obligation consultation.