Pedestrian accident deaths were 15 percent higher in the United States in 2012 as compared with 2009. The number of fatalities has increased an average of 4.9 percent each year since 2009 and experts do not understand why.
With traffic safety professionals stymied about how to reduce pedestrian fatalities, research is underway by activists nationwide to help understand the risks faced by walkers. For example, one analysis of traffic deaths in Philadelphia between 2008 and 2012 showed that there were 158 deaths citywide but only 16 pedestrian deaths in Center City. The study of locations where fatal crashes occurred led to the conclusion that street design is the biggest driving factor in reducing collisions.
If this is true, then the passage of the new Safe Streets Act of 2014 could help to reduce the number of people dying on roads throughout the United States. Of course, there is no guarantee that the law will pass and even if it does, it is not nearly enough to make the roads as safe as they should be for walkers and bicyclists. Pedestrians who do suffer injury have the legal right to compensation and should contact an experienced Delaware Valley accident lawyer for assistance.
Street Design is Key to Safety for Pedestrians
The Safe Streets Act of 2014 was introduced into the United States Senate. The Act would require that states and local municipal organizations establish Complete Streets policies and apply those policies to new federally-funded transportation projects.
Throughout the United States, more than 238 local jurisdictions have reportedly put Complete Streets policies into place already. These policies simply mandate that roads and transportation infrastructure be designed with the safety of all road users in mind and not just for people in cars. Road design needs to address the needs of walkers, bicycle riders, children, elderly people, freight vehicles and those who utilize public transportation.
The federal Department of Transportation is also directed by the Act to establish regulations to determine if local jurisdictions are complying with the law and using Complete Streets policies.
Since street design is seen as key to reducing deaths, the passage of this Act could be a good step towards saving the lives of pedestrians. However, it is a very small step.
The fact is, in the United States, just 1.6 percent of federal transportation dollars in 2012 were devoted to walkers and bicyclists. A total of 12 percent of trips are taken by walkers and bicyclists, yet a disproportionately low amount of money is going towards making these road-users safer.
While there was a slight reduction in pedestrian accident fatalities in the first half of 2013 (8.7 percent fewer deaths in the first half of the year than in 2012), there were still 1,985 people killed nationwide in just a six month period of time. Further, experts couldn’t explain the decline except to speculate that an improving economy meant that more people were driving instead of walking.
With thousands dying each year, it is clearly not enough to just pass a bill requiring that states use better principles for road design going forward. Driver and pedestrian education efforts need to be undertaken and a serious effort needs to be made to adapt existing infrastructure to bicyclists and pedestrians.
A Delaware Valley accident lawyer can help collision victims. Contact Flager & Associates at 215-953-5200 today to schedule a consultation.