Popularity of SUVs is Linked to More Fatal Pedestrian Crashes
New smart design features are making cars safer. However, pedestrian deaths continue to rise at an alarming rate, according to a new report. The increased popularity of SUVs is one likely factor.
Dangerous by Design 2019 urges action to curb the pedestrian death toll. It points out approximately 49,340 people were killed in the 10-year period ending in 2017 in the United States.
A body of research suggests the move to larger cars fueled the spike in pedestrian deaths. Pedestrian groups claim the deaths of people on foot represent a public health crisis in the United States.
The issue was the focus of 2018’s Detroit Free Press/USA Today Network investigation, “Death on Foot.” The series pointed to the increasing popularity of SUVs as a pertinent factor in the rise in deaths. Sports Utility Vehicles are more likely to kill or seriously injure pedestrians than smaller cars. The report also pointed to the role played by vehicle speed distraction, and road design.
Emiko Atherton, director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, which produced the report in tandem with the advocacy group Smart Growth America said:
“We are killing an airliner’s worth of people walking each and every month — and these numbers are only increasing. This is a wake-up call for all of us. No one should have to risk their life just to cross the street, yet that’s exactly what thousands of people have to do just to get around each day.”
The report found in 2016 and 2017 — the most recent years for which data was available to the researchers — about 12,000 pedestrians died in the United States.
The researchers pointed out many of America’s towns and cities are still not friendly to pedestrians. Where crosswalks do exist, they are often spaced so far apart they are impractical to use.
Lights at crosswalks seldom give older people enough time to cross the road while overly large lanes encourage drivers to put their foot on the gas. Speed is a major factor in many pedestrian deaths. Many streets in America’s cities are designed with wide turning lanes that allow cars to turn right through crosswalks at high speeds, a news release for the report stated.
Atherton said many states expect more pedestrians to be killed on their roads. He said the federal government should withhold $30 billion in federal highway money for states that fail to make pedestrian-friendly safety improvements.
The report highlights the most dangerous states for pedestrians. Florida is consistently ranked the worst state for people on foot. Orlando, a city known for its car-friendly planning and congestion, sees some of the highest levels of pedestrian deaths in the nation.
How Many Pedestrians are Killed in Accidents in Virginia?
Every year, the number of fatal pedestrian accidents hits three figures in Virginia. In 2017, the state recorded 114 pedestrian fatalities according to Virginia traffic crash facts. The figure was a 5.8 percent fall on the 2016 total.
In all 1,751 pedestrians were injured in the Commonwealth in 2017, a 3 percent fall on the previous year.
Most the deaths and injuries of pedestrians occurred on urban rather than rural roads, according to the report. Hampton Roads sees high levels of pedestrian deaths.
Pedestrians have rights in Virginia and elsewhere. Sadly, they are often mown down on crosswalks in cities like Norfolk and Chesapeake. If you or a family member has been hurt in a pedestrian accident in Hampton Roads or elsewhere or if you lost a loved one, please call our Norfolk car accident injury lawyers as soon as possible at (757) 231-6443.