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Pedestrian Fatalities on the Rise Across the USA: What You Need to Know

Pedestrian Fatalities on the Rise Across the USA What You Need to Know

Pedestrian fatalities are on the rise in major cities.

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) reported that 111 pedestrians were killed on Colorado roads in the past year. While city officials are calling for change, the number of pedestrian fatalities continues to go up. In Colorado, pedestrian fatalities account for 15% of the state’s total fatalities and these year’s statistics are also a 12% increase compared to last year.

You might think this trend has to do with location, weather, local cultures and behaviors, or any other given factor, but the truth is that there is a nationwide increase in pedestrian deaths. The New York Times transport desk reports that in 2022, pedestrian deaths reached a new national record in 41 years. 7,508 pedestrians were struck and killed, which accounts for a 77% increase from 2010 to 2021.

According to a legal study, select cities in California, Florida, and Louisiana are some of the most dangerous places for pedestrians and have the highest fatality rates. Again, some may chalk this up to those states having some of the most popular tourist destinations and having large populations, but cities in Nevada, California, and Texas were also on the list for some of the safest places for pedestrians.

So, there are a couple of questions that need answering here: what makes a city safe for pedestrians and what can be done to make dangerous cities safer?

Driving after the pandemic

There are a couple of things to touch on here: Some problems have to do with infrastructure while others are more recent. The New York Times reported a shocking surge in traffic deaths – both vehicular and pedestrian in 2020 during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. In New York City, at least 243 people died in traffic crashes; this was marked as the deadliest year for traffic since Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero Action Plan in 2014 which aimed to put an end to traffic deaths and injuries in the city.

According to the Times, this was due to several factors unique to the pandemic. Because the streets were emptier during the day, motorists felt confident driving at unsafe speeds, leading to more accidents behind the wheel. The article also attributes late night drag racing to the surge in deaths.

Again, there was an implicit assumption among drivers that no one was leaving their homes and that they were the exception. In addition, young drivers not equipped with the proper training were getting behind the wheel; it was easy for them to lose control of the vehicle and hurt themselves and others. In one instance, it was reported that an 11-year-old boy died while drag racing with friends. While some younger drivers were out on the road, older people who were more likely to be affected by the virus were staying home.

While young drivers account for a portion of the fatality spike, DWI accidents also play a substantial role. The stress and uncertainty of the pandemic meant that many people were turning to substances like alcohol and drugs to cope with their everyday lives. Some drivers may not have realized the impact it had on them until it was too late.

As mentioned, this was part of a national trend during the pandemic. Most of these accidents were easily avoidable. But the pandemic continues to show how the societal patterns and behaviors changed, especially toward driver and pedestrian safety.

With all of these factors, it could be difficult to see a way forward for improving pedestrian safety, but don’t worry, we’ll provide a few solutions below.

Driver awareness

First, let’s look at ways to improve driver awareness. We have an article here listing the ways that drivers can practice awareness every day. According to the National Safety Council, approximately eight people are killed in distracted driving crashes a day.

To avoid becoming a part of this statistic, drivers should keep their cell phones put away while driving or ensure that calls are connected to vehicles that have Bluetooth features. Some cell phones now have a “driving mode” that limits notifications and ensures that calls and texts can be answered hands free. Check to see if these functions are available and consider enabling them.

It’s also important to speak up as a passenger when you witness distracted driving as the distracted driver is putting your life in danger along with cyclists and pedestrians, not to mention their own.

Urban planning

Secondly, there is something cities can do to improve pedestrian safety. Urban planning or regional planning is the development of land use plans and programs that help communities adapt to population growth, and regenerate uses for old spaces in towns, cities, and metropolitan areas.

Urban planners take many factors into consideration when building or improving a city, including transportation, public spaces, and environmental sustainability to improve the quality of life for people living in the area. They identify the needs of a city and create solutions for both short-term and long-term improvements.

Planners also play a key role in project management, ensuring that community plans and zoning regulations are enforced. They use GIS software, statistical software, and data visualization programs, to work on making cities more walkable and pedestrian friendly. Urban and regional planners often specialize in specific areas like public transportation or community development and they collaborate with civil engineers and architects to shape cities and towns.

Many emphasize the need for more public transportation and accessible, walkable areas. This would reduce the constant need for driving in some cities, which would then decrease the number of pedestrian fatalities. To explore pedestrian safety and urban planning initiatives in your community, get in touch with your local urban planner. Your involvement can help create safer, more livable urban environments.

Traffic Barricades

Lastly, traffic barricades and signage play a crucial role in pedestrian safety by serving multiple purposes. They help define safe vehicle paths, especially detours and closed paths on construction sites.

OTW manufactures high visibility barricades, with retroreflective surfaces and signage to alert drivers and highlight driving instructions. They also act as protective barriers for road workers, providing an additional layer of safety in case of collisions, offering workers and pedestrians valuable reaction time to avoid potential injuries. In the traffic and construction industry, where worker safety and traffic management are extremely, barricades are indispensable tools.

Making the Roads Safer for Everyone

The alarming rise in pedestrian fatalities in major cities, including the record-breaking numbers reported in 2022, brings to light a nation-wide issue that demands immediate attention. There are a few solutions to this problem.

First, improving driver awareness by curbing distractions, specifically regarding cellphone use. Second, urban planning that emphasizes walkability and public transportation plays a significant role in creating safer environments for pedestrians.

Finally, the use of effective traffic barricades and signage can provide crucial protection for both pedestrians and road workers. Addressing these issues is essential to reverse the disturbing trend of rising pedestrian fatalities and make our cities safer for everyone.

Want to learn more about safety barricades and how they can help to prevent accidents at your event or construction site? Contact the trusted safety experts at OTW Safety today.