Pedestrian accidents have become increasingly common in recent years, especially last year, when a record number of pedestrians died in accidents, according to a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).
"Every day, 20 people go for a walk and do not return home," Jonathan Adkins, chief executive officer of the GHSA, said in an interview with Forbes. "These are people living their daily lives – commuting to and from school and work, picking up groceries, walking the dog, getting some exercise – who died suddenly and violently."
The most pedestrian fatalities since 1981
Each year, the GHSA releases a report called "Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities By State." The annual report contains the number of pedestrian accidents nationwide based on data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The report also includes pedestrian fatality data for every state in the nation.
Last year, 7,508 pedestrians died in accidents nationwide. That figure is the highest death toll for a single year since 1981, the GHSA reported.
"This continues the upward trend (in pedestrian fatalities) that the United States has been experiencing for decades," the GHSA report states.
Since 2010, pedestrian deaths have increased nearly every single year. Between 2010 and 2022, the number of pedestrians who died in accidents increased by 77 percent. That figure includes a 19 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities from 2019 to 2022, the GHSA reported.
Pedestrian deaths in Kentucky hit record high
One of the states that experienced a sharp rise last year in pedestrian deaths was Kentucky. In 2022, an estimated 99 pedestrians died in accidents in Kentucky, an increase of 30.3 percent compared to 2021, when there were 76 pedestrian fatalities in the state, according to GHSA data.
To put such numbers in perspective, the number of pedestrian accident deaths in Kentucky has increased by 102 percent since 2012, when there were 49 pedestrian fatalities in the state, according to NHTSA accident data.
Why pedestrian accidents happen
GHSA officials cited several reasons for the high number of pedestrian accidents in recent years:
- Drunk driving causes 19 percent of pedestrian fatalities.
- Driving too fast (speeding) results in 8 percent of pedestrian accidents.
- Dangerous driving habits, such as texting while driving, running a red light, or not stopping at a stop sign.
Other traffic safety experts have cited the increased number of SUVs on the road. When drivers in SUVs hit pedestrians, such vehicles cause more severe injuries and more fatalities due to their size and high profile.
How to prevent pedestrian accidents
The GHSA study offered several suggestions for preventing pedestrian accidents, such as:
- Reducing speed limits in high-risk areas where pedestrian accidents often occur.
- Installing more streetlights at crosswalks or improving the lighting at intersections.
- Making road design more inclusive of pedestrians and other non-motorized users.
- Building sidewalks on streets that don't have them where pedestrian accidents occurred in the past.
- Educating drivers, especially younger ones, about the dangers pedestrians face on the road.
- Enforcing existing traffic laws more aggressively, especially laws covering speeding, drunk driving, and texting while driving.
"The saddest part is that these crashes are preventable," Adkins said to Forbes.
Contact a Louisville, KY pedestrian accident lawyer
Claims involving pedestrian accidents often turn into complicated legal cases. This is because the at-fault driver's insurance company would rather look for ways to reduce or deny your claim than pay you the compensation you deserve.
At The Whaley Law Firm, we know how to play hardball with insurance companies. If they refuse to cooperate, we're not afraid to file a lawsuit and fight for your rights in court.
Put your trust in a law firm that puts your needs first. Schedule a free consultation with a Louisville pedestrian accident attorney who knows how to win. We work on a contingency fee basis. That means you only pay no fees unless we win your case. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.