Even a minor car accident can be deadly when a pedestrian is involved. With advancing vehicle technology, it would seem logical to assume that motor vehicle accidents – including those involving pedestrians – would decrease. But just the opposite is true. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), “nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. in 2017, marking the second year in a row at numbers not seen in 25 years.”
What is responsible for the increase in pedestrian deaths? Although the cause is not certain, the two-year increase does correlate with two trends in particular – marijuana legalization and smartphone use.
Pot and Cellphones?
The GHSA report doesn’t claim that pedestrian deaths are directly linked to either of the trends mentioned above; rather it states that “more recent factors contributing to the increase in pedestrian fatalities might include the growing number of state and local governments that have decriminalized the recreational use of marijuana, which can impair judgment and reaction time for all road users.”
Car and Driver delved deeper into the potential link between pedestrian deaths and legal pot. It reported a 16.4 percent increase in pedestrian deaths in states that had legalized marijuana and a 5.8 percent decrease in all other states. A Boston motor vehicle accident lawyer can help you protect your rights if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.
The Dangers of Distracted Walking
In addition to weed, the GHSA noted increasing smartphone use as another potential cause of the rise in pedestrian deaths. And it wasn’t focused on smartphone use behind the wheel – although that is likely also a factor. We’ve all seen pedestrians who are not paying attention to the walkway or road ahead of them, entranced by whatever is on their smartphone screen. The reality is – distracted walking can be deadly.
In 2015, the National Safety Council officially added distracted walking as a cause of “unintentional death or injury.” And more than half of all adult cell phone users surveyed by the GHSA admitted to accidentally running into something while distracted by their phones.
The Problem isn’t Likely to Go Away Anytime Soon
More than 2,000 people visit the emergency room annually for injuries related to distracted walking, but orthopedic surgeon Claudette Lajam believes the problem will only increase as more features – a.k.a. distractions – are added to our devices.
Pedestrian Accident Statistics
The following statistics were outlined in the GHSA report:
- Most pedestrian accidents occur after dark – 72 percent in 2014.
- In the first half of 2016, there were 2,660 fatal pedestrian accidents, compared to 2,486 during the same period in 2015.
- Nearly 6,000 pedestrians died in 2016.
- About 15 percent of all auto accident fatalities involve pedestrians.
- Pedestrian deaths increased by 22 percent between 2014 and 2016.
- The following four states accounted for 42 percent of all pedestrian deaths – New York, Texas, Florida and California.