Pedestrian accidents are on the rise, and the numbers are shocking. Throughout the United States, the rate of pedestrian deaths has increased by 50% over the last ten years. What has caused this jump in pedestrian fatalities?

Most people think the increase is the result of pedestrians using phones while the walk, and it makes sense. Afterall, if someone is looking down at their phone, they are less likely to be looking up and paying attention while they cross the road. But data is pointing to a different cause. Instead of the so-called “distracted pedestrian” phenomenon, the jump in pedestrian deaths is likely due to a multitude of factors.

What factors contribute to increased pedestrian fatalities?

Although drivers using phones likely play a role in this increase, other factors are also to blame. Cars are bigger and drivers are more likely to speed than ever before, making collisions more likely to result in serious injuries if the vehicle were to strike a pedestrian. Roads are getting wider which makes it more difficult for pedestrians to get across the street quickly.

What can be done to stop this trend?

Communities can advocate for change. Increased presence of crosswalks and median islands can provide pedestrians safe areas to cross and wait for traffic to pass. Police officers can enforce speed limits, better ensuring vehicles are less likely to speed where pedestrians are present, and victims can hold drivers accountable in the event of an accident. Using the legal system to better ensure accountability can provide two forces of change. First, the driver that violated the law and caused the accident is less likely to repeat the offense and second news of the lawsuit will deter others from making the same mistake.