Posted by John Ager on 21 May 2018.
If you follow this blog, you know that it is largely devoted to discussing health issues in the context of medical malpractice claims, which is a significant part of our law practice. However, we also help the victims of other more pedestrian types of negligence as well.
For example, I just settled a case for an older gentleman who was hit by a car while walking to a restaurant in a parking lot. He was badly injured as you might expect when someone does battles with a giant moving piece of metal. Fortunately, the money we were able to obtain for him and his family will ensure that he makes the best recovery possible. More importantly, it will help provide all of the help he needs managing the permanent disabilities he suffered as a result of the accident.
So, it was with some interest that I recently read and article discussing statistics related to pedestrian fatalities resulting from motor vehicle deaths in the United States. Since 2009, pedestrian deaths have increased 46%, with nearly 6000 killed in 2016 alone. The number of pedestrian deaths as percentage of all motor vehicle deaths also increased from 11% to 16% during the same time. Why?
Well, no one knows for sure, but the Institute for Highway Safety thinks the increased popularity of the already ubiquitous SUV may play a large role. While there is not direct evidence of a correlation between the number of SUVs on the road and increased pedestrian deaths, the cause of motor vehicle-related pedestrian fatalities has not changed much over the last few years. Darkness, alcohol, and the failure of walkers to use an intersection are all culprits. Therefore, it makes some sense that higher profile vehicles, which are likely to cause more harm to a pedestrian than a car, might be to blame. And, with recent reports of the demise of the sedan, things might worse before they get better.
Of course, cell phone use by drivers and pedestrians, the movement to walk more and drive less, and other factors probably play some role. Distracted walking might appear to be just as big a problem as distracted driving, at least of you are paying attention.
The statistics should be especially disturbing for walkers in Arizona, which, among its other dubious distinctions, saw the highest rate of pedestrian deaths in the country, and the 5th highest total overall, despite having a relatively small population. Watch out! The good news is that our communities recognize the problem and are making progress to make pedestrian travel safer by improving walking-related infrastructure.
Whether its big vehicles, distractions, or a lack of pedestrian-friendly corridors that are harming those who travel on foot, the lesson is clear. Walking is getting more dangerous and like most things in life, the best defense is a good offense. At least for now. Stay alert and stay safe!