Vehicles, traffic laws and even road design have all evolved over the decades to better prioritize the safety of individuals. Although car crashes still occur all the time, advances in technology often mitigate the consequences of such collisions. People are more likely to survive a collision when they’re traveling in a vehicle with advanced restraints, for example, and it may be easier to avoid a collision on a road with certain design elements, like roundabouts where there used to be busy intersections.
Despite the progress that has been made regarding the improvement of safety in traffic, there are some circumstances under which travelers are at greater risk than they have been in a long while. Pedestrians, for example, are at more risk now than they were just a few years ago. Researchers recently warned that pedestrian fatalities hit a 40-year high.
Why are pedestrians at more risk?
The number of pedestrian fatalities reported in 2021 was higher than in any other year in the last four decades. That information becomes much more alarming. The actual number of pedestrian fatalities was likely far higher than the official reported number that hit a 40-year high, as the estimated 7,500 pedestrian deaths did not include the data from Oklahoma at all. There are several factors that researchers point to as likely having a relationship with the uptick in pedestrian deaths.
One major consideration is the increasing size of vehicles. The most popular vehicles on the road are large vehicles, including trucks, vans, SUVs and crossovers. Those large vehicles can very easily cause catastrophic injuries to pedestrians even at lower speeds. Another consideration is the recent surge in dangerous driving habits in the last few years. Police officers and researchers have reported a marked increase in the number of people getting behind the wheel after drinking or driving while distracted.
What can pedestrians do to protect themselves?
Pedestrians will always have risk whenever they come close to motor vehicles. Some of the best options for mitigating risk include crossing at marked locations, prioritizing visibility and choosing lower-speed roads while walking whenever possible. Pedestrians who do end up injured by motorists may be able to file an insurance claim or possibly even a personal injury lawsuit against the driver at fault for their crash.
Ultimately, recognizing that pedestrian risk is higher than ever in recent years could help people make choices that might save their lives and/or safeguard their interests in the event that a crash does occur.