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Pedestrian Accident Fatalities Rise to Highest Levels in 40 Years

A view of downtown Indianapolis, Indiana.

Here's what's driving the increase in U.S. pedestrian deaths

According to a recent report compiled by the Governor’s Highway Safety Administration (GHSA), deaths due to pedestrian accidents reached a 40-year high in 2021, continuing an upward trend that has traffic safety officials concerned about the safety of our most vulnerable road users.

“Prioritizing pedestrian safety is critical to reaching zero deaths in the U.S.,” the GHSA said in a statement. “While not every American drives a vehicle, nearly every person – urban or rural, old or young – is exposed to motor vehicles while walking on or near roadways. Unfortunately, pedestrian deaths continue to grow at an alarming rate.”

The GHSA study compared pedestrian fatality data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) for the first six months of 2021 to the same six-month time period in 2020.

From January 2021 to June 2021, a total of 3,441 pedestrians were killed nationwide. That figure is 17 percent, or 507 deaths, higher than the pedestrian death toll during the same six-month period in 2020.

Indiana pedestrian fatalities

One of the states responsible for the dramatic increase in pedestrian deaths last year was Indiana. In the first half of 2021, the state had a total of 52 pedestrian fatalities. That figure represents an increase of about 15.5 percent compared to 2020, when there were 45 pedestrian deaths statewide. Compared to 2019, when the state had 35 pedestrian fatalities during the first half of the year, pedestrian deaths are up about 48.5 percent.

Pedestrian fatalities have been particularly bad in recent years in Indianapolis, prompting residents and city officials to urge the public to be more aware of and share the road with pedestrians.

"We have to make a community-level commitment that we will not tolerate traffic fatalities, and know that in making that commitment, we are needing to commit to dozens, hundreds, thousands of things that will cost money, take political will, require coordination on a scale that we have not done on this topic,” said Kim Irwin, executive director of Health By Design.

Common causes of pedestrian accidents

According to the GHSA study and data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pedestrian deaths remain a serious problem for several reasons, including:

  • Speeding drivers, who caused an additional 8.6 percent of pedestrian fatalities last year.
  • Drivers under the influence of alcohol, who play a role in nearly half (46 percent) of pedestrian deaths each year nationwide.
  • Poor light conditions, especially after dark at night, when an estimated 76 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur.
  • Distracted driving, including texting while driving, which accounts for roughly 1 in 5 pedestrian fatalities.

Older and younger people are also particularly vulnerable when it comes to pedestrian accidents. An estimated 20 percent of pedestrian fatalities involve adults over 65 years old and 17 percent of children under 15 years old, according to the CDC.

Of course, driver negligence plays a role in far too many pedestrian accidents. That's why if you were hit by a car in Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, or some other community in Indiana, you should protect your legal rights and explore your legal options by consulting with an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer as soon as possible.

Talk to an Indiana pedestrian accident attorney today

At Glaser & Ebbs, our attorneys have more than 100 years of combined legal experience successfully handling accident claims for injury victims throughout the state. Our highly skilled legal team has the knowledge, experience, and resources to handle every detail related to your claim, and we know what it takes to build a winning case in Indiana. In fact, in one case involving a boy who sustained severe injuries after being run over in a church parking lot, we secured a $1.7 million jury verdict.

To see what we can do for you, contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced Indiana pedestrian accident lawyer. We have six offices conveniently located throughout the state, including offices in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis.

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