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Pedestrian deaths set record in 2016

Projections indicate that there was an 11 percent increase in fatalities attributed to pedestrian accidents in this country in 2016 from one year earlier. This was the greatest increase in the actual number of deaths, according to a report made by the Governors Highway Safety Association that was issued in late March.

There were 2,660 pedestrian deaths for the first part of 2016, compared to 2,486 fatalities reported during the first six months of 2015. Between 2014 and 2015, the increase was an alarming nine percent. The number of pedestrians killed in 2016 compared to 2014 was a 22 percent rise. Pedestrians constituted 15 percent of all vehicle fatalities in this country.

New York, however, realized a 7.3% decrease in fatal pedestrian accidents during this time. In this state, 127 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents during the first six months of 2016, while 137 were killed in that period one year earlier.

Nonetheless, over twice as many states reported a rise in pedestrian traffic deaths during that period compared to those with a decline. Thirty-four states reported an increase, 15 states and the District of Columbia had a decline, and one state reported no change.

The GHSA attributes this rise to several possible factors. The number of vehicle miles traveled rose because of declining gas prices and an improving economy. More Americans are also walking for health, transportation, economic or environmental reasons. Distracted drivers and pedestrians using personal electronic devices also contributed to this increase.

Successful measures to improve pedestrian safety include high visibility enforcement of traffic laws, public information campaigns, conducting education outreach in high-risk zones and ensuring that streets are safe for all pedestrians and motorists regardless of their age and ability. State agencies are also working together on infrastructure improvements.

Victims of pedestrian accidents and their families may be entitled to compensation for losses that they suffer. An attorney may help ensure that their rights are pursued through litigation.

Source: Governors Highway Safety Administration, "Pedestrian Fatalities Projected to Surge 11% in 2016," Accessed April 1, 2017

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