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Study examines surge in pedestrian fatalities

At least 17 pedestrians are struck and killed by vehicles every day in this country. The Governor's Highway Safety Administration recently studied the causes of these deaths, which have risen to a 30-year high, from car accidents and other vehicle collisions.

According to the most recent estimates, 6,227 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in 2018. While overall traffic fatalities dropped six percent from 2008 to 2017, according to the GHSA, pedestrian deaths rose by 355 and are continuing to grow.

Twenty states experienced increases. California, Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Texas suffered 46 percent of all pedestrian fatalities in the nation.

Population growth, distracted driving related to increase use of telephones when driving and the increased popularity of larger SUVs are the major causes of this disturbing trend, according to the GHSA. It also cited other unaddressed causes such as inadequate street lighting, drug and alcohol impaired drivers and speeding.

The report's author recommended improved street lighting and better enforcement of traffic laws. He also called for tougher penalties for striking a pedestrian which would serve as a deterrent and make motorists more alert. Tougher standards for obtaining a driver's license, especially after it is suspended, could help keep bad motorists from driving.

Los Angeles adopted the Vision Zero program used by 30 cities in this country and across the world to focus on pedestrian safety by re-engineering streets, better enforcement and education. It has had mixed success in the United States.

Los Angeles implemented this program in 2015. Traffic fatalities rose in 2017. The city addressed this by identifying dangerous streets and changing crosswalks and traffic lights. Commuters blocked more serious actions.

New York had substantial success which led to the largest drop in pedestrian deaths. Redesigning streets and lowering speed limits had the greatest impact.

Pedestrians have no physical protection from a vehicle driven by a negligent, distracted or impaired driver. Inadequate infrastructure multiplies this risk. Victims and their families should seek legal representation to determine whether there are grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.

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