Pedestrian safety is of utmost importance right now, and not just because pedestrians legally have the right of way in most places in the United States. Being a safer pedestrian is always key to avoiding injuries by being aware of ones surroundings and avoiding distractions, but as it stands, North Americans are not stemming the tide of pedestrian accidents. It was recently announced that pedestrian deaths have reached their highest numbers in forty years. It is such a problem that the Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, is trying to get $5 billion to help make streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.
How Did We Get Here?
The most shocking part of this increase in pedestrian deaths is that, for almost three decades, pedestrians deaths were decreasing, but in 2021 alone, there were about 7,500 pedestrian deaths. At the same time, motor vehicle accidents are also on the rise, and the cause isn’t exactly clear. What is clear, though, is that America has a disproportionate number of traffic deaths each year compared to other countries, so these deaths are preventable. One possible reason for this is that road quality has decreased overall, and that local governments don’t often have the funds on hand to do the “smaller” repairs that can help increase road quality and safety. By not prioritizing these repairs, it is possible that we are not prioritizing the safety of pedestrians, either.
What Can Be Done?
Diligence on the part of pedestrians and drivers alike is the first step to decreasing this fatality rate down to a hopeful zero. Helping spread awareness of the problem is something we can all do, reminding people to dress in a way where they can be seen and reminding people to stay off their devices when they drive and walk. There is also the Safe Streets and Roads for All grant.
If the Safe Streets and Roads for All program is successful, a grant will go to local governments to increase road quality and, therefore, road safety. The grants will be distributed over the next five years, to help supplement any local programs, or lack thereof, since the federal government does not and cannot fix local roadways.
What Other Options Are There?
Awareness is key to safety, much as road quality is an important factor. Being a conscientious pedestrian, bike rider and automobile driver will keep all pedestrians safe. Technology is another way in which pedestrian safety can be increased. Researchers at Ohio State are currently developing a pedestrian safety app, something that is lacking in the current electronic marketplace. The app is being designed to notify drivers of pedestrians before they are in view, or if they are out of view, to help avoid accidents due to blind spots or other factors.
If you have been involved in a pedestrian accident, you should contact us so that we can advise as to your next steps to make sure you remain protected and are compensated to the fullest extent of the law.