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Why are pedestrian deaths rising?

Distracted driving isn't just a danger to motorists. Researchers believe that it may be a key factor in the increase in pedestrian deaths in recent years here in New Jersey and throughout the country.

Pedestrian deaths in our state rose 22 percent between 2010 and 2015. That's just below the nationwide rate of 25 percent. Meanwhile, total traffic fatalities rose by just 6 percent during those years (and just 1 percent in New Jersey).

The numbers aren't getting better for pedestrians. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, the number of pedestrian fatalities rose 11 percent across the U.S. between 2015 and the first half of 2016. New Jersey, however, showed some improvement during this period. We had a decrease of 8 percent in pedestrian fatalities, putting us in ninth place in the U.S.

While the use of cellphones and other devices by both drivers and pedestrians may be one factor in the overall rise in pedestrian deaths, it's not the only one. People "walking under the influence" is also an issue.

A 2015 investigation by a New Jersey newspaper found that 40 percent of pedestrian fatalities between 2010 and 2013 in Ocean and Monmouth counties involved people who had a blood alcohol content that was above the legal driving limit of .08 percent. That's even higher than the 34 percent of pedestrian deaths nationwide that involved people navigating the streets on foot while under the influence.

It's essential for pedestrians to keep an eye out in every direction for motorists, even when they have the right of way. Just like driving, walking on or near New Jersey roads requires your full attention.

However, no matter how careful pedestrians are, there's no guarantee what a driver will do, and the results of an auto/pedestrian collision can be devastating. If you've been injured or a loved one was killed in one of these crashes, it's essential to learn about your legal options for taking civil action. Justice can be achieved civilly regardless of whether any criminal charges are filed against the driver.

Source: App.com, "Study: Crashes killing pedestrians faster than motorists," Mike Davis, accessed Sep. 07, 2017

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