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Why are pedestrian fatalities increasing?

According to a study released this month by the Governors Highway Safety Association, pedestrian fatalities have risen by 22 percent in the U.S. during the past two years. The National Safety Council also reported an increase in deaths in pedestrian-vehicle accidents during that same period.

Over a third of pedestrian fatalities were linked with alcohol consumption -- specifically, people whose blood alcohol content was above the legal limit for driving. People are regularly cautioned against drunk driving, which is of course illegal. However, as someone involved with one of the studies noted, pedestrians under the influence "are walking in a diminished capacity. They can't react as quickly."

Most of these pedestrian fatalities (nearly three-fourths) occur at night. The number that occur in isolated areas has increased significantly, while those in urban areas rose by approximately 1 percent.

Drivers also share in responsibility for the increase in pedestrian fatalities. According to the National Safety Council, the increase in distracted drivers has played a key role in overall traffic deaths.

Pedestrian death rates vary by state. Two of New Jersey's neighboring states, New York and Pennsylvania, are among those with high or increasing pedestrian fatalities.

There are infrastructure changes that cities can make to improve pedestrian safety, such as installing more islands in intersections. However, both pedestrians and drivers need to be attentive at every moment that they're on the road.

Pedestrian-auto accidents are usually far more injurious to the pedestrian than the person behind the wheel of a vehicle. If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in a crash that was the fault of a distracted, reckless or negligent driver, an experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney can help you seek the compensation you need to cover medical bills, lost wages and other damages.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Pedestrian deaths increase 22 percent in past two years across U.S.," Mark Blazina, March 30, 2017

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