The benefits of walking are almost too numerous to count. The health aspect is one: walking burns calories, exercises muscles and acts as good cardio. It’s safe for the environment: an automobile runs on gas, is made of metal made in plants and spews carbon dioxide. It’s social: walking gives an individual more time to take stock of the surrounding environment, to socialize and to relax. Even more, it saves money: the American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates on average it costs $8,558 to operate a car annually. However, despite the upside to walking, according to recent reports, walking has become something else in the last year: more dangerous.
Massive Jump in Fatalities
The Governors’ Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) reported in March that fatalities to pedestrians increased more than 33 percent in Connecticut in 2016 compared to 2015. Statistics show that in 2015, 21 pedestrians were killed between January and June; during the same period in 2016, the number jumped to 28. Nationally, pedestrian fatalities increased from 5,736 in 2015 to 5,997 in 2016, and increased by 25 percent from 2010 to 2015, while total traffic fatalities increased by only six percent.
The statistics in the report show that 74 percent of the accidents occurred after dark, compared to 23 percent in the daytime and four percent at dawn and dusk. More than 72 percent of the accidents occurred in travel lanes, while 18 percent occurred in intersections and 10 percent occurred in non-travel lanes, including shoulders and driveways.
Five Fatalities in One Day
The issue became prominent in Connecticut last December as the state experienced five pedestrian deaths in one day. According to the Hartford Courant Newspaper, on December 2, 2016, two individuals were hit while outside their vehicles on major interstates, and two individuals on skateboards and one delivering newspapers were killed.
New Haven not Immune
The New Haven Register reports on specific cases that have occurred in the city, citing research from the University of Connecticut which shows that in this state last year there were more than 1,402 pedestrian-related crashes, including 215 in New Haven, two of which were fatal.
According to GHSA, several factors may have contributed to the uptick in pedestrian deaths. Among them are lower fuel prices, which have increased traffic on the roads, and more people out walking. The use of smart phones by both pedestrians and drivers is felt to be a key factor.
Prevention is Key
The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center offers several tips to increase safety while walking. They include wearing bright, reflective clothing; carrying a flashlight at night; walking on the sidewalk if possible, and if not, walking facing traffic; looking before crossing the street; and obeying signs.
According to GHSA, the spike in pedestrian deaths also spurred the state of Connecticut to take action. In addition to television and radio spots created by the state police to raise awareness of pedestrian safety, road safety audits are scheduled to take place statewide to look for problem areas for pedestrians, and rumble strips are being constructed on several highways.
The Law Firm of Ronald M. Scherban has over 40 years of pursuing personal injury cases. Practicing from offices in New Haven, the firm has the knowledge, experience and resources to serve your legal needs. If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, contact us today and let us help. For questions or a free evaluation, contact us online or call us at 203.865.6414. The evaluation is free and you pay no out-of-pocket expenses until your case is closed.