Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney Joseph Lipsky is concerned that over the past year, even with a significant reduction in vehicle traffic for most of the year due to Covid-19, that the number of pedestrian wrongful deaths across America rose by the largest increase in over fifty years.
A report published by the Governors Highway Safety Association for 2020 demonstrated the most significant increase in car accident related pedestrian death rate since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration established its Fatality Analysis Reporting System. The initial reporting unfortunately found nearly seven thousand pedestrians died during 2020. That number represents a 4.8% increase over the prior year’s deaths.
In fact, the numbers mean there was a twenty-one percent increase in the pedestrian death rate – based upon a rate of 2.2 per billion vehicle miles driven. That increase is particularly concerning as we Americans drover significantly fewer miles over the past year due to lockdowns and pandemic related business closures and work from home requirements of the past year. Those figures, which we must remember represents actual loss of life, occurred despite a 16.5% reduction in vehicle miles traveled nationwide. Last year’s rise continues the pattern of increasing danger for pedestrians – as pedestrians fatalities made up 17% of all traffic deaths in the prior year, a nearly fifty percent increase from the 13% amount of pedestrian deaths in 2010. Basically, pedestrian deaths rose by nearly fifty percent over the past decade, while all other car accident-related deaths increased by only 5%.
The report, which is compiled from mandatory data accumulated by state highway safety offices. While the data is preliminary, that is until the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finalizes it, it is disconcerting and should shock all of us.
Considering the safety advances vehicle manufacturers have implemented for drivers and passengers, it is clear more attention must be paid to address the dangers vehicle pose to pedestrian and bicycle riders. There is no doubt that one of the most prevalent factors contributing to the rise in pedestrian deaths is an associated increase in the number of truck and SUVs on Florida’s roadways. Other likely factors contributing to the rise in pedestrian car accident deaths are speeding, drunk driving, stoned driving and driver distraction such as cell phone use. Distracted driving also includes using a vehicle’s navigation system and reading to emails. Although many states issue citations to drivers for texting to be a primary offense, not all states enforce those law as rigorously, in fact, Florida only last year made texting and driving a primary citable offense.
Drivers don’t fully understand that if they are driving 55 mph, if their eyes leave the road for only five seconds, their vehicle move over 300 feet down the road; that right, in merely five seconds their car will travel over the length of one football field. The report also found that the majority of pedestrian deaths from car accidents happen at night and at areas which are not considered to be intersections.
Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer Joseph Lipsky reminds his fellow motorist that they must always be on the lookout for pedestrians and bicycle riders. Remember it only takes a moment of distraction to change the path of someone’s life.