Why are pedestrian accidents and fatalities on the rise in Massachusetts?

American roads have become increasingly dangerous for walkers. According to Governors Highway Safety Association estimates, drivers killed nearly 7,500 pedestrians in 2021 — the highest number in 40 years. And in Massachusetts, MassDOT crash portal data indicate that pedestrian deaths rose 40% between 2020 and 2021, rebounding even higher than pre-pandemic normals.

Pedestrian Fatalities in Massachusetts

While pedestrian accidents can happen anywhere at any time, a WalkBoston report identified several key factors regarding Massachusetts pedestrian deaths in 2021.

  • Over half of the pedestrian fatalities occurred in only 12 municipalities. Nearly a quarter happened in Boston and Springfield alone. Although Boston is roughly four times the size of Springfield, the two cities had similar numbers of fatal pedestrian crashes. The following communities also reported more than one pedestrian fatality each: Lowell, Brockton, Dedham, Framingham, Lawrence, New Bedford, Oxford, Saugus, Weymouth, and Yarmouth.
  • Older people were overrepresented in Massachusetts pedestrian accident deaths. Despite making up only 17% of the state population, people 65 and older represented 36% of the deaths in pedestrian crashes. People under the age of 20 were least likely to be killed.
  • Over half of the fatal pedestrian accidents in the Commonwealth occurred on streets with speed limits of 30-35 MPH. In other words, pedestrians tend to be killed on neighborhood and town streets where more people are walking.

Factors in Fatal Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrians accounted for 17% of traffic deaths in the U.S. in 2020, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). The following factors have been implicated in fatal pedestrian crashes:

  • Speeding: Reports citing speed as a factor in pedestrian deaths grew from 6.5% in 2018 to 8.6% in 2020. (GHSA)
  • Alcohol: Nearly half (46%) of fatal pedestrian crashes in 2019 involved alcohol for either the driver or the pedestrian. (CDC)
  • Vehicle Size: The larger size and heavier weight of vans, trucks, and increasingly popular sport utility vehicles (SUVs) can cause more severe pedestrian injuries in the event of a collision. (GHSA)
  • Location: Most pedestrian deaths take place in urban areas in locations away from intersections (where speeding might occur). (CDC)
  • Time of day: Most pedestrian fatalities occur at night, with over 40% of pedestrian deaths in Massachusetts happening during the hours of 5 pm-10 pm, a time frame associated with rush hour as well as evening activities such as walking and jogging. (CDC, Mass.gov)

Massachusetts Pedestrian Accident Lawyers

Unlike truck drivers, vehicle passengers, motorcycle riders, and even bicyclists, pedestrians often have little to no protection in traffic accidents. As a result, they may suffer severe, life-altering injuries in a crash. If you’ve been hurt in a Massachusetts pedestrian accident, the best way to protect your rights is to consult with a local personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

The experienced Boston pedestrian accident lawyers at Altman & Altman LLP can help you sort through complicated issues such as determining fault, navigating insurance claims, and seeking financial compensation for your injuries. If you lost a loved one in a fatal pedestrian crash in Massachusetts, we can also discuss filing a wrongful death claim. Call us at 800.481.6199 or contact us online for a free consultation with a pedestrian injury lawyer today.


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