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Why are pedestrian fatality rates increasing?

Although it sometimes seems like people hop in their cars to drive a mile down the street to the grocery store, many people still walk to where they're going -- sometimes with tragic results. Nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed by vehicles during 2016. That marked a 46 percent increase since 2009.

Pedestrian fatalities are increasing at a faster pace than overall traffic fatalities. Not surprisingly, pedestrian death rates are highest in larger cities. However, they can happen anywhere.

SUVs are a significant part of the problem. SUV-related pedestrian deaths rose 81 percent in that 2009-2016 period. More and more consumers are opting for SUVs over cars. In fact, Ford has stopped producing most of its car models.

SUVs pose a greater risk of serious and fatal injury when they come into contact with pedestrians in part because of their size. However, their design is also a factor. The head of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says, "SUVs have higher front ends, and often the design for the vehicle is much more vertical than passenger cars."

Regardless of what kind of vehicle someone is driving, he or she has an obligation to everyone on and near the road to stay focused. Distracted driving and driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs are certainly factors in the increase in pedestrian deaths.

Safety experts have also pointed to the problem of pedestrians who are paying more attention to the text they're reading or typing than the vehicles around them. Some cities have even implemented laws against texting while walking. Others who study safety have postulated that the increasing legalization of marijuana could be a factor.

If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in a pedestrian-vehicle crash, even if the driver was not completely at fault, it's wise to find out what your legal options are for seeking compensation. An experienced Tennessee attorney can give you and your family valuable guidance.

Source: Detroit Free Press, "Death on foot: Pedestrian fatalities skyrocket in U.S.," Eric D. Lawrence, Chris Woodyard, Zlati Meyer and Kristi Tanner, May 08, 2018

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