For the three decades prior to 2009, the U.S. had witnessed a steady decline in pedestrian accident fatalities, however, a recent AAA report has found a 53% increase in pedestrian fatalities in the 10 years leading up to 2018.
Given the alarming rise in statistics, Boulton Law Group dug further into the report to gain a clearer understanding of why these types of accidents have been on the rise across the U.S.
Additionally, to better gauge what’s happening at home, we also take a closer look at Indiana’s pedestrian fatality numbers in recent years.
Why are Pedestrian Fatalities Increasing?
In addition to noting the large increase in pedestrian fatalities between 2009 – 2018, AAA’s study also contained an astounding finding with regard to the location of these incidents: Outside of one rural accident, the 2,000+ increase in pedestrian fatalities was virtually restricted to urban areas.
So why have our streets become more dangerous to pedestrians over the past decade?
Three factors that have long been identified as a factor in pedestrian-related fatalities continue to play a role in the most recent increase:
- Speeding: Simply put, driving over the speed limit has regularly been cited on police reports as a contributing circumstance to pedestrian accidents and fatalities.
- Vehicle Size: Although the proportion of pedestrians fatally struck by sport utility vehicles increased over the study period, the increase in the absolute number of pedestrians fatally struck by cars was larger. However, the U.S. has also seen a large increase in the number of drivers who own and operate SUV’s, and their design represents an increased fatality risk to pedestrians.
- Poor Visibility: Inadequate lighting and lack of authorized crossings also continue to play a role in pedestrian accidents and fatalities, especially in arterial and non-intersection roadways.
And though AAA’s report did not specifically mention “distracted driving,” we know that this behavior has become a major contributor to all accident types over the past decade, including pedestrian-related collisions.
In fact, distracted driving has become so dangerous, Indiana introduced its “Hands-Free Law” on July 1, 2020, in an effort to force drivers to put down their phones, or else, face significant fines.
Indiana’s Pedestrian Accident Statistics
The most recent statistics regarding Indiana’s pedestrian-related accidents come from a 2019 report by Indiana University Public Policy Institute.
The following pedestrian-fatality numbers for the Hoosier state include totals for the years 2015 – 2019, as a 10-year data set was not available:
- Total pedestrian accidents: 1,797
- Fatalities: 93
- Total pedestrian accidents: 1,914
- Fatalities: 84
- Total pedestrian accidents: 1,708,
- Fatalities: 108
- Total pedestrian accidents: 1,763
- Fatalities: 117
- Total pedestrian accidents: 1,660
- Fatalities: 76
And looking specifically at Indiana’s most recent year’s (2019’s) findings, the Indiana State Police Automated Reporting Information Exchange System (ARIES) cited 15 actions as a contributing factor to pedestrian collisions including:
- Crossing at an intersection – 318
- Crossing not at an intersection – 271
- Pedestrian on the roadway – 239
- Other – 191
- Unknown – 171
- Moving – 120
- Not in the roadway – 119
- Standing – 64
- On shoulder – 35
- Working – 30
- Against traffic – 29
- Getting in our out of vehicle – 27
- On designated non-motorist lane – 26
- With traffic – 18
- Getting off or on school bus – 2
Three Key Takeaways From AAA’s Report
Overall, AAA’s findings help to highlight a few key reminders for Indiana’s drivers and pedestrians:
1.) City/Urban streets present a significant risk for pedestrians.
While risk is high anywhere on a city street, it is especially dangerous in areas with poor or inadequate lighting during the late-night and early morning hours. In fact, nearly 90% of the increase in pedestrian fatalities occurred between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. on weeknights.
2.) Drivers of larger vehicles must stay aware of pedestrians.
Whether it is an SUV, semi-truck, bus, van, or another commercial vehicle, the increased size of the automobile represents an increased fatality risk to pedestrians. (As noted in AAA’s 10-year study, the number of collisions involving SUVs that resulted in pedestrian fatalities rose by 79%.)
3.) Slow down and pay attention.
Speeding has long been a constant factor in all types of automobile accidents, including collisions with pedestrians. Anytime you exceed speed limits or drive too fast for conditions, you decrease the amount of time to react to a pedestrian that is on or entering the roadway.
Additionally, to ensure a proper lookout for pedestrians, we must keep our eyes on the road. So please put down your phone and avoid any instances of distracted driving.
Questions About a Pedestrian Injury Case?
Due to their unique nature, pedestrian injury cases have the potential to present complicated liability issues, and the insurance company may try to shift some or all of the blame onto the person who was on foot.
For that reason, if you or a loved one were involved in a pedestrian accident, we recommend that you consult with an experienced Indiana personal injury lawyer to help ensure your rights are protected.
Attorney Matt Boulton is an award-winning personal injury attorney with more than 20 years of experience helping seriously injured people throughout Indiana reclaim what was taken from them. His firm was created for for the client who expects exceptional service and passionate, successful legal representation.