pedestrians with luggage cane and walker cross the streetPedestrian deaths are rising at an alarming rate, soaring by 35% from 2008 to 2017 nationwide, while the combined number of all other traffic deaths actually declined by 6%, according to a new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).1  The number of pedestrian traffic deaths in 2018 is projected to be 6,227 and is the highest since 1990. In Minnesota alone, 377 pedestrians died from 2008-2017.

If you’ve been injured as a pedestrian by a negligent driver, it’s crucial that you contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately. An attorney will begin dealing with the insurance companies so that you can focus on healing. The potential for serious injuries or even a tragic death is high when an unprotected pedestrian is hit by a car. While financial compensation can’t bring back a loved one or take away a permanent impairment, it can help provide financial stability for survivors or injury victims.

Pedestrian fatalities represent a bigger proportion of all traffic deaths than at any time in 30 years – 16% of all deaths in 2016, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Experts say one reason pedestrian deaths represent a higher percentage of total traffic deaths today is likely because passenger vehicles have become more and more safe for the people in them – protections not afforded someone outside the car.

While pedestrians and drivers bear equal responsibility for avoiding accidents, * those on foot pay the greater price for a mistake or miscalculation, an obvious truth. The number of people walking for pleasure, exercise, or to get to work keeps growing. To get an idea of the growth, consider that the number of walking commuters rose from 3.3 million to 4.1 million in the 10 years between 2005-2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Certainly, the increasing number of walkers is a significant factor in the rise in pedestrian deaths.

A surge in the number of SUVs involved in pedestrian fatalities also has some calling for design changes to those vehicle types. From 2010-2015, fatal single-vehicle pedestrian crashes involving SUVs rose a whopping 82%. While passenger cars, which still outnumber SUVs, are far more likely to be in a crash resulting in the death of someone on foot (42% of all pedestrian traffic fatalities), the design of SUVs makes them more dangerous when pedestrians are hit, said an author of the IIHS report, quoted in Governing. SUVs are higher off the ground than cars and “stiffer,” with blunt front ends. Changing SUVs’ higher front-end profile to a sloping, car-like front end profile can reduce the risk of pedestrian deaths.

No other vehicle type, whether cars, vans, pickups, or medium- or heavy trucks, has seen increased involvement to match SUVs in single-vehicle pedestrian fatalities.

Another factor the GHSA analysis attempted to pin down is how much the ever-more-widespread use of cell phones may play a part in the rising risk to pedestrians. The authors note that the reported number of active smartphones in the U.S. more than quintupled from 2010-17, with wireless data use increasing by 4,000%. While there are many reasons to conclude that distraction due to texting or other cell phone use by both walkers and drivers contributes to collisions, a direct link is tough to establish as fact. That’s due in part to the fact that crash investigators have difficulty determining whether that type of distraction actually happened.

In an individual claim, however, it is important to note that lawyers familiar with accident cases will actively investigate to seek any records that might show a driver was distracted by his or her cell phone at the time of a crash. Our firm has been representing injured victims since 1988. We have the financial resources and the experience necessary to thoroughly prepare your case and see it all the way through a trial, if necessary. We have recovered more than $125 million on behalf of our clients and we are ready to assist you. Contact us today.

Besides Rochester, we serve the following major southeast Minnesota cities: Red Wing, Winona, Mankato, Austin, Albert Lea, and Owatonna, and all outlying communities, as well as the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Bloomington. We also serve the Iowa cities of Mason City, Charles City, Osage, Spencer, Garner, Forest City, and Northwood and the Wisconsin cities of La Crosse, Onalaska, Sparta, Viroqua, River Falls, Ellsworth, Whitehall, and Black River Falls.

*A note about language:

Federal agencies involved in traffic safety have banned use of the word “accident” for more than 20 years, and with good reason. However, we use the word “accident” on our website, even though we know it has implications that run contrary to our professional thinking and training, because we recognize that “accident” is the word most commonly used in online searches when people are looking for help after being injured in a crash. If you’d like more information about this topic, please see our blog, “Car Accident or Car Crash?”

1 “Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State: 2018 Preliminary Data.” GHSA, www.ghsa.org/resources/Pedestrians19.