The pedestrian death rate has surged over the last ten years, rising by nearly fifty percent nationwide. The death rate from 2015 to 2016 remained steady, the first time in five years that the rate has not increased. Even holding steady represents a significant increase since 2009, and experts are not in agreement as to the cause of the rise.
There are a variety of potential factors at play, including:
- An increase in smartphone usage leading to distracted driving and distracted walking
- Legalization of marijuana leading to more driving under the influence
- Prevalence of heavier vehicles such as trucks and SUVs over sedans, with heavier vehicles increasing the likelihood of any given accident being fatal
Of these, smartphone usage can most easily be addressed through law. Many states have started to recognize that distracted driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving, and have significant penalties attached to any usage of a phone while driving unless utilizing a hands-free device. Additional research will indicate whether or not adopting these changes in policy will lower the rates of pedestrian deaths in those states.
Changes in drug laws and enforcement could address the risks associated with driving while under the influence of marijuana, but marijuana poses additional difficulties for enforcement. Marijuana stays in the system longer than alcohol and determining how long a person is impaired after dosage could be difficult. Utilizing field tests to determine impairment might be required, or developing rapid result blood tests.
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a pedestrian accident, you know how important it is to determine the cause of the uptick in these deadly incidents. Please, consult with an experienced attorney regarding your case. Whether the driver was impaired or distracted, a full investigation can help you get the answers to the questions you need to obtain some sense of closure.