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On Oct. 22, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a report containing U.S. traffic crash fatality statistics from 2018. The report brought some good news, including a promising 2.4% decrease in overall road fatalities between 2017 and 2018. Fatalities among children, alcohol-impaired fatalities, speeding-related fatalities and motorcyclist fatalities all declined as well. Despite these improvements, however, roads may actually be getting more deadly for one especially vulnerable group of commuters: pedestrians and cyclists.

The NHTSA reported 6,283 pedestrian deaths in 2018, which is the highest number in 28 years. Overall, pedestrian fatalities have risen by over 50% since 2009. There were 208 more pedestrian fatalities in 2018 than in 2017, marking a 3.4% increase; cyclists saw 51 more deaths, marking an even higher increase of 6.3%. On top of that, the report came just months after the Governors Highway Safety Association announced that 2018 was the deadliest year for pedestrians since 1990.

The NHTSA also observed some patterns regarding the circumstances of fatal pedestrian and cyclist accidents. Half of cyclist fatalities and over three in four pedestrian fatalities occurred after dark. Alcohol was also a substantial contributing factor, with 38% of pedestrians and 26% of cyclists who lost their lives having alcohol in their systems. There are several safety steps that can be taken to decrease the number of fatal pedestrian and cyclist accidents, including:

  • Adding more street lighting
  • Lowering speed limits on pedestrian and cyclist-heavy roads
  • Adding concrete islands
  • Giving pedestrians a head start in crosswalks
  • Installing blinking-light crosswalks
  • Improving pedestrian detection technology in new cars
  • Making pedestrian detection technology a standard on all cars (instead of a luxury add-on)

Jake Fisher, the Senior Director of Auto Testing for Consumer Reports, referred to the increase in pedestrian fatalities as “an epidemic of preventable deaths”, noting the need “to double down to figure out how to achieve better pedestrian detection and more widespread adoption.”

If you or a loved one is a victim of a pedestrian or cyclist crash, it is important to seek help from an experienced auto accident personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

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