Be careful walking down the street – fatalities are on the rise and recently reached their highest levels in almost 30 years. Recent trends are troubling. In 2008, there were 4,114 pedestrian fatalities in the United States, and preliminary data for 2018 suggests 6,277 deaths, according to a report recently released by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). This represents an increase of a whopping 52%! In 2008, pedestrian deaths represented 12% of all motor vehicle related deaths. In 2018, that percentage increased to 16%.
Pedestrian Fatality Trends
The last 10 years have shown pedestrian deaths can happen at all hours of the day. From 2008-2017, daytime fatalities remained mostly consistent, from 1,145 in 2008 to 1,267 during the daytime. However, a dramatic shift occurred during the night hours, from 3,059 in 2008 to 4,440 in 2017. During that 10-year period, 90% of pedestrian fatalities occurred at night. Of course, at night it is harder for drivers to see pedestrians, unless they are wearing reflective clothing or lights.
Location plays a role too. Pedestrian fatalities in 2017 took place at the following locations: 35% on local streets, 25% on state highways, 16% on U.S. highways, 10% on interstates, and 8% on county roads. Local streets can be filled with tourists and people walking to and from work. 26% of deaths happened at or near an intersection, while 72% happened away from an intersection.
Some form of intoxication was found in nearly half of all 2017 pedestrian fatalities. The study examined fatalities involving at least one participant with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 g/dL or higher, the legal limit for intoxication in most states. Nearly 2017 of the deceased pedestrians had this level of intoxication compared with 17% of the drivers. Drinking and driving remains a big concern in all states, including the Mid-South area of Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi.
Federal regulators seek to figure out why pedestrian fatalities are increasing at such a large rate. Some potential causes are buyers’ shift towards larger SUVs and trucks (which can produce more violent impacts), distracted driving, the prevalence of cell phones, and people using wireless data (surfing the Internet, etc.) while driving and crossing the street. From 2009-2017, the number of smartphones in use during fatal pedestrian accidents increased more than 4x, and wireless data in use increased by more than 4,000%.
Examples of Laws Governing Pedestrians to Encourage Safety
On the state level, legislators look to promote pedestrian safety. Tennessee, for example, has enacted several pieces of legislation geared toward pedestrians and rules they must follow. Tennessee Code Annotated 55-8-133(a), for example, states pedestrians are subject to traffic-control signals at intersections. Laws also require pedestrians to use crosswalks when possible. According to Tennessee Code Annotated 55-8-135, any pedestrian crossing outside of a crosswalk or in an unmarked crosswalk shall yield to other vehicles. This is an affirmative legal duty placed on pedestrians. Tennessee Code Annotated 55-8-138 requires people to use sidewalks whenever possible, instead of walking in the roadway. However, some streets do not have sidewalks. When there is no sidewalk or the sidewalk is obstructed, pedestrians shall walk on the left side of the road or in a manner facing oncoming traffic.
As you can see, Tennessee law places several affirmative legal duties on pedestrians. Of course, motorists must also exercise due caution at all times as well. Motorists should slow down when approaching a crosswalk. Motorists must also yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and on the sidewalk and adhere to “walk” signals at intersections. When a pedestrian accident takes place, the circumstances may dictate which individual was responsible for the crash. As an injured pedestrian, you will need to prove negligence by establishing the driver of the car owed you a legal duty to drive safely but breached that duty and caused your damages.
Our Law Firm Is Experienced in Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian accidents often involve complex legal issues regarding proof of negligence. Drivers almost always blame the pedestrian for crossing illegally or jumping into the street in an effort to avoid responsibility. If you were hit by a car, you should seek legal counsel that can protect your rights and work to obtain independent evidence of the crash. For instance, our car accident attorneys can contact witnesses and take their statements. We can also seek to find and preserve critical evidence like video footage from nearby locations. For a free consultation with an experienced pedestrian accident attorney, call us at 800-529-4004 or complete our online form. We are available 24/7 and help people injured throughout Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Kentucky, and Illinois.