If you were to casually glance at traffic statistics, you might think that pedestrian deaths were down. In 2019, there were 128 pedestrian deaths in Ohio. That number represents five fewer deaths than in 2018 when 133 pedestrians died.
However, when you look back a few years to 2015, you see that both years show increases over 2015’s 118 pedestrian deaths. Even that figure is an increase over 2010’s 93 pedestrian deaths.
Why has the risk of dying as a pedestrian increased by more than a third in the last decade? Are there ways for you to stay safer when you choose to walk someplace?
Distraction is a major risk for those in cars and out of them
Some of the risks for driving remain consistent over time. Drunk driving is still an issue despite years of awareness campaigns and police efforts. Drowsy driving and people going too fast for weather conditions also cause quite a few crashes and will likely continue to do so indefinitely.
However, a new form of risk has likely played a role in the increase in pedestrian crashes. Distracted driving and distracted walking are both bigger risks now than they once were.
Many people have a hard time setting their phones down and focusing on their current task. That dependence on mobile technology could mean that someone steps into the street without checking for oncoming traffic or that a driver doesn’t notice someone crossing the street in front of them.
Bigger vehicles and more safety features might also play a role
Huge SUVs, crossover vehicles and heavy-duty trucks are popular right now. These vehicles are taller and have bigger blind spots. Both of those characteristics might increase the risk of someone striking a pedestrian while driving.
Additionally, improved safety features in vehicles relying on cameras and other digital technology could lull drivers into a false sense of security. If they think the vehicle will check their surroundings for them, they may not be as cautious as they should be at the wheel.
When pedestrians get struck by vehicles, they often suffer severe injuries and incur massive expenses as a result. The victims of these crashes or their surviving family members may need to file a civil lawsuit or negotiate large insurance claims after the crash.