Just how much did pedestrian fatalities increase in 2016?

While improving economic conditions have resulted in rising wages, greater job stability and increased employment opportunities, they have also had the other less obvious impact of putting more people back on the road. Indeed, this reality, coupled with low gas prices, has resulted in a considerable spike in the number of motor vehicle miles traveled.

Although this may seem like a welcome development, it actually comes at a time when more people than ever are choosing to make the transition from motorist to pedestrian owing to everything from improved public transportation and monetary concerns to a desire to live a healthier lifestyle and reduce their carbon footprint. Of course, with this increase in motorists and pedestrians -- and the number of smartphones owned by each -- comes a heightened risk of fatal accidents.

It wasn't until the Governors Highway Safety Association released a report last week examining the number of pedestrian fatalities in the U.S., however, that the true extent of this danger became evident.

What did the study find?

Using preliminary data from the highway safety offices of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the GHSA report determined that there were 2,660 pedestrian fatalities during the first six months of 2016 versus 2,486 pedestrian fatalities during the same time frame in 2015.

As shocking as this is, after adjusting for various factors, the GHSA is predicting that the full year numbers will ultimately show an 11 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities from 2015 to 2016, and a 22 percent increase from 2014 to 2016.

What trends emerged among the states?

According to the GHSA, 34 states saw an increase in pedestrian fatalities from the first half of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015, while 15 states and D.C. saw decreases and one (Maine) saw no changes.

Breaking the numbers down further, four states -- California, Florida, Texas, and New York -- accounted for 42 percent of all pedestrian fatalities, while the states with the highest rates of pedestrian deaths per resident population were Delaware, Florida, and Arizona, respectively.

How did Georgia fare?

Unfortunately, Georgia was among the five states -- the others being California, Florida, Texas, and New York -- that each had more than 100 pedestrian deaths during the first half of 2016.

Indeed, the Peach State had 90 pedestrian fatalities during the first half of 2015 and 109 during the first half of 2016, an increase of 21.1 percent.

What did the GHSA say could be done to address this issue?

Some of the solutions offered by the GHSA for combating the problem of pedestrian fatalities include:

  • Public education campaigns designed to reach pedestrians and motorists
  • Increased enforcement efforts by local and state law enforcement
  • Identification of high-risk zones and accompanying educational outreach
  • Adoption of Complete Streets policies

Here's hoping we see these historically bad numbers decline. In the meantime, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about your options for pursuing justice if you've been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a pedestrian accident.

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