A walk in the park might be an easy and pleasant experience, but walking on or near U.S. roadways is anything but. Research into pedestrian safety around the country shows that pedestrians are in far greater danger than they were a few short years ago. From 2009 to 2016, pedestrian deaths rose nearly 50 percent. In 2016, 5,987 pedestrians were killed on American roads. This trend shows no signs of slowing.
The Double-Edged Problem Of Distraction
Distracted drivers are an obvious culprit for people looking to assign blame for the rising number of fatalities. All manner of distracted driving accidents have been on the rise for years now. Drivers paying attention to their smartphones are ignoring the responsibilities of safe driving. The response in most jurisdictions has been to ban texting and driving.
Drivers are not the only people endangered by distraction, however. Pedestrians who fail to pay attention to their surroundings are placing themselves in great danger of serious injuries or death. Young people, in particular, may not appreciate the dangers of careless walking. Smartphone addiction can be as perilous to those on foot as it is for those behind the wheel.
Cell phones are likely just one factor in the rise of pedestrian deaths. Electric and hybrid cars are much quieter than the gas-burning variety. This makes it harder for pedestrians and cyclists to hear them approaching and take evasive action. Cars have less glass, and therefore less visibility than they once did. While this can be compensated for with innovations like the backup camera, drivers must adjust their style of driving to account for pedestrians.
Whatever the causes, it is indisputable that pedestrians are dying in far greater numbers than they once did. Reversing that trend will require the efforts of lawmakers, law enforcement and drivers everywhere.