The National Transportation Safety Board has announced a three pronged approach to reducing the number of pedestrian fatalities. This is in response to the 46 percent rise in pedestrian deaths between 2009 and 2016 (the most recent year of comprehensive data). According to Bloomberg, the total of 5,987 in 2016 is the highest number since 1990.
Improvements to vehicles
The NTSB recommended that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration require the following safety improvements:
- Improved quality of headlights
- Improved quality of braking system
- Softer bumpers to reduce the force of an impact upon pedestrians
New local and federal safety plans
The NTSB also recommended that the Federal Highway Administration support local engineers and road managers, who have a better understanding of local needs. It added such general recommendations as:
- Raise awareness of this issue among drivers and pedestrians
- Build more sidewalks to keep pedestrians off of roads
- Build more medians to channel pedestrians to crosswalks
- Better lighting on the roads at night
- Automatic speed enforcement
Some cities have not waited
Some city officials have already seen the surge in pedestrian deaths and addressed it themselves. Honolulu, for example, recently enacted a law preventing those on foot from using smart phones or devices when crossing the street (pedestrians could be fined $15-$99). New York City has lowered the speed limit, increased speed enforcement and implemented safer street designs. In light of these changes, pedestrian deaths were down to 101 in 2017, which is the lowest it has been in the city since 1910.
Pedestrians need to protect themselves
The circumstances of injuries will vary on a case-by-case basis, but the fact is that someone on foot will be seriously injured even when the vehicles are traveling on slower city streets. It is simply best to assume that the driver is distracted and may not see a pedestrian in time.
Victims and their families should also protect themselves by contacting a personal injury attorney with experience handling motor vehicle accidents. They can help clients get the compensation they deserve for lost wages, medical expenses not covered as well as mental trauma caused by the crash.