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Why are pedestrian fatalities increasing?

In 2018, pedestrian fatalities across the United States reached their highest level in 18 years. Americans’ preference for larger vehicles, driver distraction and ineffective safety features may be key contributors to this deadly trend.

People in West Virginia can find themselves as pedestrians navigating traffic in a variety of situations, each one exposing them to the risk of being hit by a motor vehicle. Common pedestrian situations include walking or running for exercise, crossing a street to get from one building to another, or even simply walking through a parking lot from their car into a store or other location.

Pedestrians must be vigilant about their safety, especially in light of new data that shows an increase in pedestrian deaths across the country.

2018: An exceptionally deadly year for pedestrians

According to The Verge, records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. rose by 3.4% from 2017 to 2018. That increase happened while overall motor vehicle fatalities in the country decreased by the same amount. In 2018, a total of 6,283 people on foot were killed in automobile accidents.

Pedestrian realities in West Virginia

The NHTSA records show that West Virginia experienced 214 pedestrian deaths in the 10 years spanning 2009 to 2018. Over that time, 2010 was the year with the fewest pedestrian fatalities when 13 such deaths were recorded. In 2018, the state lost 22 pedestrian lives in accidents.

Vehicle size as a factor

CNBC explains that drivers’ preference for sport utility vehicles may be a contributing factor in the continued increase in pedestrian deaths. A pedestrian accident involving a sedan or compact vehicle may involve primary impact in the legs. A pedestrian accident involving an SUV may involve primary impact in the torso or head, resulting in more severe trauma and outcomes.

Drivers of SUVs and other large vehicles may also have a harder time seeing pedestrians due to their height in the vehicles compared to the height of pedestrians on the road.

Safety features not working

One study conducted by AAA evaluated vehicles equipped with pedestrian detection systems and automatic braking features. Even during daylight hours and low speeds, the vehicles hit pedestrian dummies six out of 10 times. The accuracy and effectiveness of advanced safety features reduce even further in dark hours.

West Virginia residents deserve to be safe

People in West Virginia should be able to cross streets, walk through parking lots and more without fear that they will be hit or killed by vehicles. Anyone who has been involved in a pedestrian accident should contact an experienced attorney to learn how they can protect their rights and seek appropriate compensation.