How Did the Pandemic Affect Pedestrian Fatalities?
June 16, 2021
A recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), estimates pedestrian fatalities have increased by 4.8 percent nationwide in 2020, despite a significant decrease in driving because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The GHSA had expected to see car accidents, personal injury, and fatalities decrease during the first six months of 2020 because more people were working from home and there were fewer vehicles on the road. In fact, the opposite occurred, and it appears that the risk of pedestrian accidents is still increasing.
Pedestrians struck by a motor vehicle should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer for assistance.
Why are Pedestrian Fatalities Increasing?
The GHSA based its estimates on preliminary data reported by the State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs) in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Information from the SHSOs indicated that pedestrian fatalities were increasing because drivers were engaging in unsafe behavior, including speeding, distracted driving, and driving while impaired. Statistics from the report include the following:
- The pedestrian fatality rate was 2.30 per one billion vehicle miles traveled in 2020, representing a 21 percent increase over 2019.
- The 2020 pedestrian fatality rate was the highest it has been in five years.
- Older adults and low-income individuals were more likely to be involved in fatal pedestrian accidents.
- Most pedestrians were killed on local roads, in the dark, and away from intersections.
- Alcohol impairment by the driver and/or pedestrian was reported in nearly half of traffic accidents that resulted in a pedestrian fatality.
The number of pedestrian fatalities that happen at night is increasing faster than the number of fatal pedestrian accidents that occur during daylight hours.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will release its statistics on 2020 pedestrian fatalities later this year; however, their numbers may be different. That is because the GHSA counts individuals on skateboards, scooters, and other personal conveyances as pedestrians, while the NHTSA does not. The GHSA also includes pedestrian deaths that involve bicycles and not cars, whereas the NHTSA only counts pedestrian fatalities resulting from a collision with a motor vehicle.
What Should Pedestrians Do if They Hit by a Motor Vehicle?
Pedestrians hit by a motor vehicle should always call the police and seek medical attention. Even when injuries do not appear serious, pedestrians in a motor vehicle accident should never leave the scene until help arrives and law enforcement can document the circumstances. It is also helpful to take photos of the accident scene and get statements or, at minimum, contact information from witnesses on the spot.
As soon as possible, individuals involved in pedestrian accidents should call an experienced lawyer who can advise them of their rights. A qualified lawyer can review the circumstances of the accident and provide advice regarding who may be liable for paying damages related to medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Because drivers are legally responsible for doing their best to avoid hazards on the road, it is usually the driver and not the pedestrian who is at fault for a pedestrian accident.. In some accidents, pedestrians may also have a legal right to sue the municipality for damages if traffic signals were malfunctioning or streetlights were broken.
How Do Personal Injury Lawyers Help Pedestrian Accident Victims?
For more than 70 years, the law firm of Galfand Berger LLP has been dedicated to protecting the rights of injured individuals and their families. Our personal injury lawyers help pedestrian accident victims by working to obtain recovery of damages for medical bills and other expenses resulting from their trauma. Examples of injuries that deserve compensation include but are not limited to the following:
- Concussions and other head trauma
- Chronic pain
- Spinal injuries
- Sprains and strains of the back, shoulder, or knee
- Herniated disks
Although each case is different, we have recovered a significant number of large settlements and verdicts for our clients over the years, including the following:
- $1.5 million-dollar recovery for pedestrian struck by a car. Our client was directing traffic at a job site when he was hit by a motor vehicle. The man suffered a closed head injury and lost his leg as a result of the accident. The insurance company initially denied coverage. Our personal injury lawyers took the case to trial and won on behalf of the pedestrian.
- $365,000 settlement for pedestrian who was struck while exiting a van. Our client was being dropped off at a group home by a Paratransit operator when he was struck by an oncoming vehicle while crossing the street. His injuries included broken bones. Galfand Berger’s legal team was able to recover damages for the client from the driver and the group home.
- $1.75 million-dollar settlement for road crew injured by speeding truck. Two turnpike employees had stopped on the side of road during a snowstorm to help a stranded motorist. One of the employees was outside of the truck helping the motorist when a speeding truck hit their parked vehicle. Debris from the accident hit our client, who suffered multiple injuries, including back strain and chronic pain syndrome. The other employee, trapped in the vehicle, suffered multiple fractures. A thorough investigation by Galfand Berger lawyers revealed that the truck driver who hit the pedestrian and turnpike vehicle had been traveling much too fast for the road conditions at the time and was therefore liable.
No one wants to get involved in a pedestrian accident. Unfortunately, these incidents continue to occur in this region. In the state of Pennsylvania alone, there are about 4,000 pedestrian accidents each year, of which about four percent are fatal.
What Measures can Help Reduce the Number of Pedestrian Accidents?
Experts have proposed a number of measures that could help reduce the number of pedestrian accidents, including the following:
- Implementing phased traffic lights that give pedestrians more of a head start at walking before vehicles are allowed to proceed
- Adding hybrid beacons that flash bright yellow lights when pedestrians are crossing
- Developing more infrastructure that supports walking and biking
- Providing better street lighting overall
- Installing speed cameras in urban areas and residential neighborhoods to make drivers slow down
The risk of fatality in a pedestrian accident increases dramatically when a car is speeding. Reducing speeds in city and town streets can go a long way to ensuring that pedestrians will survive an accident with a car, should it occur.
Overall, studies show that most community public space is in the form of streets built for cars, not walkers or bikers. During the pandemic, the demand for walker-friendly public space increased dramatically, but the existing funding, policies, and infrastructure were not enough to meet this demand.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Are Experienced at Representing Individuals Involved in Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrians face increasing risks of being seriously or fatally injured by a motor vehicle. If you are walking or jogging and are struck by a car, call 911 immediately and do not leave the accident scene before help arrives. As soon as possible, contact the Philadelphia personal injury lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP for legal advice. Our lawyers are experienced at representing individuals involved in pedestrian accidents, and we will be happy to review your case. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online. From our offices in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Allentown and Harrisburg.