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Pedestrian Fatalities Reach Four-Decade High Nationwide

A pedestrian signal indicates it's safe for people to use the crosswalk.

More than 7,500 people died in pedestrian accidents last year.

Pedestrian accidents remain a serious problem in Ohio and have soared higher in the past decade nationwide. That's according to the latest pedestrian fatality data for 2022, one of the deadliest years in decades.

"Both state and national data confirm that the pedestrian safety crisis on U.S. roads is worsening," a recent study conducted by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) says.

Pedestrian deaths hit 41-year high

The GHSA released its annual report about the preliminary data for pedestrian deaths nationwide last year. According to the GHSA, based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics, 7,508 people died in 2022 in pedestrian accidents. That number is the highest pedestrian death toll for a single year since 1981.

Unfortunately, last year wasn't an exception. Over the past decade, pedestrian fatalities have consistently risen almost every year across the country. According to the GHSA, the 2022 pedestrian accident death toll is 19 percent higher than in 2019 and a staggering 77 percent higher than in 2010.

Ohio pedestrian fatalities

In Ohio, there was a 2.9 percent decrease in pedestrian deaths last year compared to 2021. According to the GHSA study, Ohio recorded 166 pedestrian deaths in 2022, down from 171 deaths the previous year.

However, these figures are far from a reason to celebrate. Over the past decade, pedestrian accident fatalities in Ohio have surged significantly. Back in 2013, NHTSA data revealed that there were 85 pedestrian deaths in the state. Comparing this to last year's death toll, it represents a staggering 95 percent increase from 2013 to 2022.

Common causes of pedestrian accidents

The GHSA and Ohio public safety officials have identified several common causes of pedestrian accidents, including:

  • Drunk driving: Approximately 19 percent of pedestrian deaths last year were attributed to impaired drivers. This alarming statistic highlights the dangers of individuals operating vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Impaired drivers often exhibit reduced reaction times, impaired judgment, and decreased awareness of pedestrians, significantly increasing the risk of crashes.
  • Speeding: Failure to adhere to speed limits contributed to an estimated 8 percent of pedestrian deaths last year. When drivers exceed the designated speed limits, they have reduced control over their vehicles and require longer distances to stop. Higher speeds also diminish the amount of time drivers have to react to unexpected situations, making it more challenging to avoid collisions with pedestrians.
  • Distracted driving: Many pedestrian accidents occur due to drivers engaging in distracting activities, such as texting, talking on the phone, or being preoccupied with other tasks. These actions divert their attention away from the road, impairing their ability to notice pedestrians and react promptly. The prevalence of electronic devices and the temptation to use them while driving have contributed to an increase in distracted driving-related accidents involving pedestrians.
  • Reckless driving: Reckless driving behaviors, such as disregarding crosswalks, running red lights, or failing to yield to pedestrians, can lead to serious or fatal pedestrian crashes. Aggressive drivers who fail to share the road with pedestrians place vulnerable individuals at significant risk. Ignoring traffic rules and displaying a lack of respect for a pedestrian's right of way can have severe consequences.

Addressing the problem

To improve pedestrian safety in Ohio, the GHSA and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) propose the following suggestions:

  • Improved road design: Roadways should be designed with the safety of all road users in mind, including pedestrians. Implementing measures such as wider sidewalks and clearly marked crosswalks can enhance pedestrian visibility and provide safer paths for walking.
  • Driver awareness: Educating drivers about pedestrian safety through driver education courses and public awareness campaigns is crucial. By increasing awareness of pedestrian right-of-way, the importance of obeying speed limits, and the dangers of distracted driving, drivers can be better equipped to prevent accidents involving pedestrians.
  • Increased lighting: Areas with a history of pedestrian accidents should have improved lighting to enhance visibility, particularly during low-light conditions. Well-lit streets, crosswalks, and intersections can help drivers and pedestrians see each other more clearly, reducing the likelihood of collisions.
  • Enforcing traffic laws: Encouraging law enforcement agencies to enforce traffic laws, especially those related to drunk driving, speeding, and texting while driving, can have a significant impact on pedestrian safety. Strict enforcement sends a strong message to drivers that unsafe behaviors will not be tolerated and can serve as a deterrent to potential violations.

In addition to these measures, Ohio has allocated a budget of $54 million this year specifically for highway safety projects aimed at reducing the risk of pedestrian-involved crashes. This investment, as announced by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, will fund various improvements, including installing high-visibility crossings, advanced yield markings, improved lighting, and implementing traffic calming mechanisms like speed bumps. Pedestrian-activated signals near schools will also be installed, ensuring safer crossings for students.

Accident victims have rights. Our attorneys can fight for them.

Claims involving pedestrian accidents often become complex legal cases due to the significant financial stakes involved, particularly when the pedestrian sustains severe injuries as a result of another driver's negligence.

Moreover, insurance companies often employ various tactics to minimize or deny pedestrian accident claims, including disputing liability, challenging the extent of injuries, and intentionally delaying the claims process.

That's when a pedestrian accident attorney can make a meaningful difference in the outcome of your case. Don't simply assume you will get the money you rightfully deserve for your injury-related expenses. Make sure you give your injury claim an edge. Talk to an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer at the Gervelis Law Firm. We know how the legal system works in Ohio, and we're prepared to do the work needed to do the job right.

Find out more about how we can help you. Contact our law firm and schedule a free case consultation. We have five offices conveniently located throughout Ohio, including offices in Columbus and Toledo.

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