Watch Where You're Going! Pedestrian Fatalities Increase
August 8, 2012

Pedestrian Fatalities Due To Car Accidents Increase

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

Texting and talking on your cellphone are both activities that can lead pedestrians astray. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently highlighted the danger of distracted pedestrians with its announcement regarding pedestrian fatalities due to car accidents, which increased by four percent in 2010.

In the study, the authors stated that 4,280 pedestrians were involved in fatal car crashes in 2010. In 2010, pedestrians made up 13 percent of all traffic fatalities and three percent of injuries that were reported. 73 percent of the pedestrian deaths took place in urban environments, with almost 80 percent of the deaths happening at non-intersections and 90 percent occurring in clear weather. On the other hand, 68 percent of pedestrian deaths happened during the night hours.

"Roadway safety is a two-way street that requires effort on the part of motorists and pedestrians alike," explained U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a prepared statement. "Whether you choose to travel by foot or car, it's important to share the roads and stay alert."

The researchers haven´t been able to pinpoint a specific cause for the uptick of pedestrians who died in traffic incidences. While Kansas had the lowest percentage of pedestrians who died in car accidents (3.4 percent), Washington D.C. ranked at the top of the list. Other states that had a high percentage of pedestrian fatalities due to traffic, including California, Hawaii, New Jersey, and New York.

“We don´t know why they´re up,” Jonathan Adkins of the Governors Highway Safety Association, an organization that compiles data on pedestrian deaths, told the Washington Post. “We think distraction plays a role, but we need more research on that.”

With these findings from the NHTSA, it´s best for pedestrians and drivers to be more aware of where they are walking or driving.

"Most people are pedestrians at some point in their day — that's why we're reminding the public to take precautions and use crosswalks or intersections whenever possible and wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross the street," remarked NHTSA Administrator David Strickland in the statement. "Drivers should pay attention behind the wheel, especially in hard-to-see conditions and at night."

The agency provides tips for both pedestrians and drivers alike in its report. For pedestrians specifically, the agency recommended walking on a sidewalk or path, wearing bright clothing during the day or reflective materials at night, avoiding alcohol and drugs when walking, and keeping alert by not using electronic devices while walking. For drivers, the agency advised slowing down and preparing to stop upon meeting a crosswalk, always stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks, following the speed limit, and abstaining from driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

According to USA Today, the NHTSA plans to hold a meeting in September that will assist in finalizing a global safety standard focused on improvements to the design of car hoods and bumpers. These safety rules would be similar to the ones found in Asia and Europe. The NHTSA believes it´s necessary to have crash-avoidance systems and redesigns of vehicles to provide safer roads.

"When it comes to pedestrians, it will be critical for manufacturers to continue focusing on technological advances that raise the bar on safety,” stated Strickland in the USA Today article.