The first person killed as a pedestrian in the United States was Henry Bliss. In 1899, Mr. Bliss had just exited a streetcar when a New York City taxi struck and killed him. More than a century later and despite significant advancements in technology and awareness, pedestrian deaths continue to rise in the U.S.. This seems to be a uniquely US problem according to research by Rutgers University and Virginia Tech. After studying 28 years of data and comparing it to four other countries comparable to U.S. in both affluence and travel, the four other countries substantially outperformed the United States in reducing pedestrian deaths. Read on to learn more about the results and ways you can help to decrease pedestrian accidents.
The four countries that were compared to the United States on the issue of pedestrian safety were Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom. All four nations reduced their per capita pedestrian fatalities by 61 to 69%. In the same time period, the U.S. reduced their pedestrian deaths by only 36%. The experts attribute the unreasonably high number of pedestrian deaths in the U.S. to four main causes: higher speed limits, high rates of drunk and distracted drivers, road designs that favor cars over pedestrians and driver-friendly traffic laws. In contrast, the peer countries have safer and higher-quality urban planning with superior walking infrastructrure, better public transit options and more automated law enforcement such as speed cameras, red-light cameras, etc.with higher and more consistent penalties.
So what can you do to help lower the number of pedestrian accidents and deaths in the United States? The first two actions are pretty self-evident. Slow down and do not drive distracted or impaired. Not only will these two steps reduce pedestrian accidents, they will help reduce car, motorcycle, truck, bus and bike accidents as well. The life you save could be your own.
The other solutions are more long-term but still require critical action on your part. During election season, research to find and then vote for candidates that support increased enforcement of traffic laws and are willing to spend money on important infrastructure to help keep pedestrians safe such as better lighting, improved crosswalk markings and warnings, investment in more sidewalks in areas with high pedestrian density, etc. Finally, if there are streets in your neighborhood that tend to be a racetrack for some drivers, call your local police precinct and ask for increased enforcement.
As a final point, this is not a cultural issue related to Americans loving their cars because as one expert has pointed out Germans love their cars and driving too (remember they have the autobahn). This is a priority issue. Are we going to make it a priority to keep pedestrians and safer? Are we going to make it a priority to reduce the carnage on our roadways?
At the Law Offices of John Day, we have been privileged to represent pedestrians and their families in all types of pedestrian accidents, whether caused by inattentive driving, drunk driving, distracted driving, etc. If you have questions about a pedestrian accident and would like to understand your legal rights and options, we offer a free consultation. If we think you have a case and you decide to hire us, our award-winning lawyers handle all pedestrian accident cases on a contingency basis so you only get paid if we recover money for you and your family. To get started, give us a call at: