According to the most recent statistics, traffic deaths and injuries are decreasing across the United States. The number of pedestrians and cyclists injured or killed on U.S. roads, however, has been on the rise. Studies point to the high rate of impaired or distracted drivers involved in these crashes as the cause.
How large is the increase?
According to reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatalities from traffic accidents decreased by 24 percent between 2004 and 2013. During the same period, however, the rate of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths increased from 10.9 percent to 14.5 percent and 1.9 to 2.3 respectively.
In order to better understand the causes of this increase and to determine if road design played a significant role, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) commissioned a study to investigate any contributing factors. The results of this study may help make local changes and keep pedestrians and cyclists safe in Texas cities.
What role does alcohol play in pedestrian and bicyclist deaths?
The NHTSA reports that intoxicated drivers cause about one-third of all traffic fatalities. This amounted to almost 10,000 deaths in 2014. Drunk driving also leads to a large number of crashes that kill pedestrians and cyclists.
Nationwide, drivers involved in a fatal collision with a pedestrian had a blood alcohol level of more than .08 percent in 15 percent of accidents during 2013. Intoxicated pedestrians are at an even greater risk of suffering fatal injuries after drinking. Thirty-four percent of fatal accidents involved an impaired pedestrian.
Fatal bike versus car crashes show a similar trend, with drivers above the legal limit in 12 percent of cases and the bicyclists testing at .08 percent or above in 20 percent of fatal accidents.
Is distracted driving a major factor in fatal accidents?
According to data from the NHTSA, distracted drivers caused about 10 percent of all fatal traffic accidents nationwide in 2014. According to the study commissioned by the GAO, distracted driving led to 480 pedestrian and cyclist deaths in 2013. This constitutes about 15 percent of all distracted driving deaths.
What else plays a role in car versus pedestrian or cyclist crashes?
People are walking and biking more for both transportation and leisure than in the past, which also contributes to the increase in accidents that involve pedestrians and cyclists. Almost 75 percent of fatal pedestrians accidents occur in urban areas, where more people choose to live close to work and commute on foot, according to data from the NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
While the GAO study did not go into much detail, there is also some evidence that over-engineered roads are playing a role in causing some accidents between cars and pedestrians or cyclists. Highway engineers design roads to help cars move faster, and this is often at the expense of non-motorists who share the roads.
The Law Office of Julie Johnson
If you or a loved one suffered serious or fatal injuries in an accident with a distracted or impaired driver, bicycle and pedestrian accident attorney Julie Johnson can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Whether you were driving, walking, or biking, we can evaluate your case and determine the best steps to ensuring you receive financial support from the at-fault party. Contact us today at 214-290-8001 to schedule an appointment at our Dallas office.