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Combating the Increase in Nashville Pedestrian Fatalities

Nashville, Tennessee, is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. The 13-county Nashville metropolitan area is currently home to nearly 1.8 million people. According to data tracked by the U.S. Census, this area gained close to 31,000 people per year between 2010 and 2015. This annual growth rate of 1.8% is more than double the national growth rate of 0.8%. A surging population has contributed to an economic boom in Nashville and Davidson County, but it has also come at a cost. Pedestrian deaths are on the rise.

As of October 2017, 19 pedestrians have died in Nashville. In the entire year of 2016, just 16 pedestrians were killed. With Nashville roads being crowded, many people walk when possible to avoid such dense traffic. According to safety experts, pedestrians are most at risk during the winter months, in part because it gets dark much earlier. As a result, people are walking home when it has already become dark.

Is there anything that can be done to fix this problem? In Middle Tennessee, two organizations have decided to team up – Walk Bike Nashville and the Tennessee Highway Safety Office. Together, they have created a campaign called “Look For Me,” designed to raise awareness for pedestrians. According to Walk Bike Nashville, pedestrian fatalities are expected to reach 24 this year, nearly double from 2009, which saw 13 fatalities.

Pedestrian accidents often produce catastrophic results. When an individual goes up against a moving motor vehicle, the individual will take the brunt of the impact. Under Tennessee law, pedestrians generally have the right of way. However they must act responsibly, and this often entails using crosswalks and the sidewalk when available. Crosswalks are in place to alert drivers that people may be crossing the street. Consequently, drivers are taught to slow down as they approach a crosswalk. Pedestrians should also follow all traffic signs and signals, just like drivers do, as well as look both ways before crossing. Drivers should always be aware of their surroundings and pay attention to the road, as Tennessee law requires all drivers to exercise due care and maintain their lane. Despite this requirement, many accidents with pedestrians take place because drivers are texting while driving or engaging in a similar distraction.

If you have been struck by a car, the law places the burden on you to assert your claim against the driver whom you feel was responsible. This is known as the plaintiff’s burden of proof. To recover for your medical bills, lost wages, and other losses, you must show driver failed to drive safely or act reasonably under the circumstances.

It is common for drivers to point the finger right back at the injured pedestrian following an accident. If you were hit by a car, the driver may try to assert comparative fault against you, claiming you did not cross at a safe time or darted out into moving traffic. This highlights the importance of obtaining contact information of any and all witnesses at the scene of the accident. An independent witness can speak with the responding officer and explain what he or she saw. Favorable witness testimony can go a long way in meeting your burden of proof against the driver that struck you.

Although pedestrian accidents are increasing in and around Nashville, the good news is that steps can be taken by both drivers and pedestrians to reduce the rate at which these occur. Always paying attention to one’s surroundings is a great place for everyone to start.