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Why are fatal pedestrian accidents increasing?

Car manufacturers have made amazing progress in creating safer vehicles. Rates of fatal traffic accidents have dropped in recent years. Unfortunately, this isn't the entire story.

Although fewer people die in traffic crashes, that only holds true for people inside of vehicles. The rates of fatal pedestrian accidents have been steadily climbing. Since 2009, pedestrian fatalities have gone up by 53%, and there is no sign of that rise stopping. In the first week of this year, New York had four pedestrian fatalities. What is behind this rise, and more importantly, how can it be stopped?

Troubling statistics

In 2018, the most recent year for which statistics are available, over 6,200 people on foot in the U.S. lost their lives to a traffic accident. Interestingly, the number of pedestrian fatalities dropped from 2008 to 2009, which experts say may have been due to the Great Recession, meaning fewer people were driving. But since that year, the number has continued to go up. 

One expert thinks that the numbers for 2019 will be even worse. Several cities around the nation are already reporting record pedestrian fatalities. Even fatalities among cyclists are on the rise, going up 36% since 2009.

What is the cause?

Experts point to a number of possible contributing factors. Perhaps one of the most obvious is the rise in smart phone use. They can be tools of distraction for both drivers and pedestrians. Even though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports a drop in fatal distracted driving crashes, some experts suspect that the numbers are actually much higher. 

Some people blame the increase on larger, heavier passenger vehicles on the road. Sixty-nine percent of all new vehicles purchased are SUVs or pickup trucks. These vehicles are more likely to kill someone that they hit due to their size and the fact that they strike people much higher on the body, potentially hitting vital organs. 

Seek help if you or a loved one is hurt

Hopefully, this type of tragic event won't happen to you or someone you know. A pedestrian accident can change a person's life forever, if they survive. Their injuries may require extensive, long-term medical care. If the pedestrian dies, his or her family may have to handle unexpected expenses. If a pedestrian accident happens to you or someone you care about, there are legal options available that you can pursue in an attempt to hold a careless driver responsible. 

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