people walking

When a Walk Turns into a Nightmare

With pedestrian accidents on the rise, a simple walk is turning into a nightmare for an increasing number of Americans. The number of pedestrians who died in traffic accidents skyrocketed 11% from 5,376 in 2015 to 5,997 in 2016. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, this was the largest single-year increase in pedestrian fatalities in history. In fact, it has been more than two decades since the number of fatalities reached the same level.

Illinois had a pedestrian fatality rate of 1.17 per 100,000 people in 2016 which is a slight decrease from the previous year. However, Chicago remains one of the deadliest cities in the country and in 2015 recorded a significant increase in the number of fatal pedestrian accidents from 35 in 2014 to 46 in 2016.

Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

Nationwide, the number of pedestrians who are killed in traffic accidents has been steadily increasing since 2009. From 2010 to 2016, the rate has risen a full 25%. Over the past three years, pedestrians have accounted for 15% of total traffic fatalities in the US each year.

Across the country, 82% of pedestrian fatalities take place away from intersections. Personal injury lawyers see a number of causes that lead to these accidents including:

  • Pedestrians forced to walk on the shoulder of the road or in driveways. About 10% of accidents occur in these locations.
  • Pedestrians having to walk/share bike lanes.
  • Pedestrians who have to enter the roadway in order to avoid obstructions such as parked cars or damaged sections of sidewalk.
  • Pedestrians using unlit and/or poorly marked crosswalks.

One of the biggest factors leading to pedestrian accidents is poor lighting. In 2015, 74% of pedestrian fatalities occurred during evening hours or dark conditions, while a further 4% occurred during dusk. Only 22% occur during daylight hours which highlights the effectiveness of adequate lighting in reducing the risks pedestrians face.

There are other factors leading to the increased risk of pedestrian accidents. Lower gas prices, a stronger economy, and increased population density are all elements that are combining to create deadly consequences. These factors are placing more and more pedestrians in the path of motorists and the rates of injuries and fatalities are likely to continue their upward trajectory even as states including Illinois take active measures to reduce them by increasing the number of sidewalks, improving lighting along roadways, and enhancing programs to educate motorists and pedestrians about the dangers of sharing the roadway.