Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer Joseph Lipsky is sorry to report that over the last year, pedestrian deaths increased to their greatest level in nearly 30 years, according to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association. This increase in pedestrian wrongful deaths flies in the face of a nationwide drop in the number of car accident fatalities.
The report found that nearly 6,600 pedestrians died in car and truck accident related crashes over the past year, an uptick of almost five percent from 2018. As one can imagine, the Association is dismayed by the data, which represents thousands of affected families.
While the researchers have difficulty determining the precise reason for the deadly increase, they attribute the rise to driver conduct including the ever increasing use of cellphones and driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol – a situation which will only continue to rise due to the growing trend of legalized marijuana use. In fact, driver intoxication played a role in about one-third of all car accidents resulting in a pedestrian fatality, with about sixteen percent of all drivers involved in pedestrian related crashes being legally drunk.
The Association also found that poor lighting along roadways upon which pedestrians are known to use and the absence of properly marked crosswalks also play a role in the increase.
As we are personal injury lawyers know too well, there is a direct link between the increase in driver smartphone use and the dangers to pedestrians. In fact, over the past decade the number of smartphones being used has increased 4xs. That decade’s long trend correlates to the fifty percent rise in pedestrian deaths over the past 10 years, while the number of vehicle occupant deaths has only increased by two percent. Clearly driver smartphone use is an ever increasing danger to pedestrians and bicycle riders. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration car accident occupant deaths continued to drop, by nearly four percent in the first half of last year, a follow up on the heals of a nearly three percent decrease in 2018.
As anyone who’s driven a new car knows, the drop in vehicle occupant car accident deaths can be attributed to the rise in autonomous driving features, including automatic braking and equipment to assist drivers in avoiding crashes.
And of course, Florida remains one of the most dangerous states for pedestrians, as was one of the five states which were the site of nearly half of the deaths.
The report also found that the vast majority of the rise in pedestrian wrongful deaths took place in the evening, when the number of pedestrians who died in car accidents rose by nearly seventy percent, as compared to only a sixteen percent rise in daylight crashes involving pedestrians. And logically, the majority of pedestrians died along multi-lane roads and in the middle of blocks, rather than at intersections.
Also not surprisingly, traffic engineers found that more pedestrians are likely to die in crashes with an SUV rather than a car, given the vehicle’s greater weight and higher driving position. The data revealed that deaths involving pedestrians hit by an SUV nearly doubled over the past ten years.
As personal injury lawyers practicing in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, we can only hope that drivers keep their eyes on the road, instead of on their phones, and be ever watchful for pedestrians and bicyclists. We also remind those walking along roads remember that cars and trucks deserve your attention more than the post or text you are reading or sending. Both motorists and pedestrians have a responsibility for each other and their own safety.