A study by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) shows that Texas ranks an unenviable 3rd among the 50 states when it comes to pedestrian fatalities. During the time period studied, from January to June 2018, 298 pedestrians died in motor vehicle accidents in Texas. California, the most populous state in the country, was first in pedestrian deaths during the six-month period, with 432. Florida came in second at 330 fatalities. Nationwide, the GHSA projected that 6,227 pedestrians died during the 12 months of 2018.
These numbers are especially disturbing because they show that pedestrian deaths are on the rise, and are in fact at their highest level since 1990. In Texas, fatalities rose 12% since 2017, when 266 people on foot died. Nationwide in 2017, 5,977 pedestrians died, which is about 4% fewer fatalities than in 2018.
Reasons for Rising Pedestrian Death Toll
Why are pedestrians increasingly dying on our roadways?
A GHSA press release following the study points to several trends that could be contributing to the increase in pedestrian fatalities. They include:
- Unsafe driving behaviors: Speeding, distracted driving, and drowsy driving, as well as impaired driving and walking are all behaviors which contribute to car accidents. Alcohol impairment by a driver or pedestrian was reported in about half of crashes in which pedestrians were killed in 2017.
- The increase in sales of SUVs and light trucks in the country: Due to their larger size, these vehicles can do more damage in a crash. According to GHSA research, the number of pedestrians killed by SUVs increased by approximately 50% from 2013 to 2017.
- More people walking in general: One study shows that the number of people who walk to work has increased over the past several years.
- Unsafe road crossings: Many pedestrian deaths take place on local roads away from intersections, indicating a need for safer road crossings. In Houston in 2017, 53% of pedestrian fatalities were away from intersections, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
Additionally, in an interview with Houston Public Media’s “Houston Matters”, GHSA researcher and report author Richard Retting said that growth in the Houston region is pushing development in the suburbs and, “areas where pedestrians are not necessarily expected by drivers.” He went on to say that roads in these areas are also not well designed to protect pedestrians.
Safe Walking Tips
You can’t control the drivers around you or their actions, but you can do some things to help protect yourself when walking. Here are some tips:
- Always stay alert to the traffic around you. Don’t talk on the phone or wear ear buds while crossing the street.
- Use crosswalks when possible and obey traffic signals. Make eye contact with drivers before you step into the roadway. Look in all directions before crossing.
- Use sidewalks whenever possible and keep an eye out for drivers backing out of driveways or turning into them.
Contact a Houston Attorney
If you need help with a pedestrian injury matter, the attorneys at the accident and injury law office of Terry Bryant may be able to help. Contact us today for a free consultation.