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Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities Reach Highest Level in Over Four Decades

Pedestrians crossing street in crosswalk

Pedestrian accident deaths increased dramatically last year to the highest single-year total in more than four decades, according to a recent traffic safety study, which also provided suggestions for reducing the number of pedestrian fatalities in the US.

"A second report analyzing state-reported data for all of 2022 found that roadways continue to be incredibly deadly for pedestrians," says a recent pedestrian accident study conducted by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), which also analyzed the number of pedestrian accidents in each state.

Pedestrian fatalities are the highest since 1981

The recent GHSA pedestrian accident study compared the number of pedestrian fatalities in each state from 2022 to 2021 using accident data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Last year witnessed a devastating death toll, with 7,508 pedestrians losing their lives in accidents nationwide. This figure represents the highest pedestrian death toll since 1981.

What makes this even more concerning is that 2022's high numbers are not an isolated incident. Over the past decade, pedestrian fatalities have shown a persistent upward trend. From 2010 to 2022, there has been a 77 percent increase in pedestrian deaths across the country. Furthermore, between 2019 and 2022 alone, there was a troubling 19 percent rise in pedestrian fatalities, as highlighted by the GHSA report.

Pedestrian deaths in Indiana

Like the rest of the country, Indiana has witnessed a distressing rise in pedestrian fatalities over the past decade. According to the GHSA study and NHTSA accident data for Indiana, there has been an 84 percent increase in pedestrian deaths from 2012 to 2022. The numbers speak for themselves, with fatalities rising from 59 in 2012 to 109 in 2022.

However, amidst this trend, there is a glimmer of hope. The recent GHSA report reveals that Indiana experienced a 12.8 percent decrease in pedestrian accident deaths in 2022 compared to the previous year. In 2021, Indiana saw 125 pedestrians die in accidents, making the decrease in 2022 a positive development.

Common causes of pedestrian accidents

Pedestrians are particularly vulnerable in crashes due to their lack of protection and direct exposure to vehicles, making it crucial to address the primary causes of accidents that put them at risk.

The GHSA study identifies three primary causes of pedestrian accidents, including:

Drunk driving

Approximately 19 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur due to drivers under the influence of alcohol each year, according to the GHSA report. Drunk driving poses a significant danger to pedestrians as impaired drivers may have reduced reaction times, impaired judgment, and decreased awareness of their surroundings. They may fail to observe traffic signals, crosswalks, or pedestrians crossing the road. The impaired coordination and vision of drunk drivers increase the likelihood of veering onto sidewalks or into pedestrian zones, directly putting pedestrians at risk of collisions and serious injuries.



Speeding-related accidents account for 9 percent of pedestrian fatalities, emphasizing the importance of maintaining safe speeds on the road. When drivers exceed the posted speed limits or drive too fast for the given conditions, they significantly reduce their ability to react and stop in time to avoid collisions with pedestrians. Speeding drivers have reduced control over their vehicles, making it challenging to navigate intersections or sudden pedestrian crossings. The higher the speed, the greater the impact and severity of the collision. Pedestrians are especially vulnerable in these situations, as high-speed impacts can cause catastrophic injuries or fatalities.

Distracted driving

Distracted drivers, particularly those engaged in texting while driving, divert their attention away from the road and surrounding environment. This diversion increases the risk of not noticing pedestrians crossing the street or entering intersections. Texting drivers often exhibit delayed reactions, decreased awareness of their surroundings, and impaired judgment. Even a momentary distraction can result in a devastating accident involving a pedestrian. Whether it's reading or composing text messages, using mobile apps, or engaging in other distracting activities, drivers who are not fully focused on the road pose a grave threat to pedestrians.

Keeping pedestrians safe

The GHSA study on pedestrian accidents provides valuable recommendations from traffic safety experts to prevent such incidents, including:

  • Install more streetlights: Increasing the presence of streetlights, particularly at crosswalks, intersections frequently used by pedestrians, or areas with a history of pedestrian accidents, can enhance visibility and promote safer interactions between pedestrians and vehicles.
  • Lower speed limits: Implementing lower speed limits on streets where pedestrian accidents are prevalent can help reduce the severity of potential collisions and provide pedestrians with a safer environment.
  • Design roads for all users: Prioritizing the inclusion of pedestrians and cyclists in road design ensures that infrastructure caters to their needs, such as well-marked crosswalks, sidewalks, and bike lanes. This approach fosters safer interactions between different road users.
  • Enforce traffic laws: Strengthening law enforcement efforts, particularly in relation to violations such as speeding, drunk driving, and texting while driving, plays a vital role in deterring dangerous behaviors and increasing compliance with traffic regulations.
  • Educate drivers: Raising awareness among drivers, especially younger ones, about the importance of being attentive to pedestrians in crosswalks and alongside the road is crucial. Educational campaigns can emphasize the inherent risks pedestrians face and encourage responsible driving habits.

"We all share responsibility for keeping people on foot safe," the GHSA pedestrian accident report states.

Claims involving pedestrian accidents are complex

Pedestrian accident claims can be complicated to navigate due to the severity of injuries, challenges in determining liability, and tactics used by insurance companies, such as:

  • Blaming the injured pedestrian: Insurers may shift blame onto pedestrians, reducing compensation based on claims of contributory negligence.
  • Insufficient evidence: Insurance companies challenge evidence to dispute injury severity or accident causation.
  • Lack of coverage: Insurers may argue policy exclusions for specific circumstances, limiting or denying claims.
  • Delay tactics: Insurers intentionally delay claims, requesting extensive documentation to frustrate claimants into settling for less.

Contact Glaser & Ebbs for help

Glaser & Ebbs is a respected law firm with experienced trial lawyers dedicated to fighting for the rights of injury victims and their families in Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, and throughout Indiana. With over 100 years of combined legal experience, our legal team has successfully handled thousands of injury claims and lawsuits, gaining in-depth knowledge of state and federal laws governing such cases.

We take an aggressive, professional approach, thoroughly investigating claims, reviewing essential documents, tracking down witnesses, and consulting with experts. If necessary, we are prepared to file a lawsuit and represent your interests in court. To schedule a free consultation, contact us today.

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