- In February of 2019, The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released a preliminary report addressing the several causes for the increase in pedestrian fatalities nationwide.
- The report shows the number of pedestrians killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2018 was 6,227, the largest increase in more than three decades.
- Many factors contributed to the rise include an uptick in smartphone usage, changes in road patterns, weather, fuel prices, shift in SUV and light truck use, and the greater amount of time people now spend outdoors and walking.
- Collectively, Michigan was one of only a handful of states to witness a downward shift in pedestrian fatalities by nearly 19 percent, but non-intersection locations in urban areas such as Detroit continue to show a rise in like crashes and related deaths.
Total U.S. Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities Sharply Increased in 2018
A report published by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), and based on preliminary data, shows pedestrian fatalities alarmingly on the rise across the nation. The early 2019 findings projects 6,227 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in 2018, representing a four percent increase from 2017 and the largest annual number of pedestrian fatalities in nearly 30 years. Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia and Texas accounted for almost half of all pedestrian deaths in 2018.
The state of Michigan was one of 23 U.S. states to see a decline in pedestrian deaths, mostly contributed to years of commitment to combat the issue using engineering, education and enforcement. Michigan has also implemented a variety of measures to improve pedestrian safety, including law enforcement training and mobilization, public education, Road Safety Audits (RSAs), a Work Zone Mobility Manual featuring guidance on the treatment of pedestrians in work zones, as well as Complete Streets policies and traffic control devices. In addition, Michigan used Section 402 funds to conduct a comprehensive pedestrian and bicyclist crash evaluation through Western Michigan University and now uses these findings to bring awareness information and campaigns to local communities on the issue of pedestrian safety.
New Pedestrian Crash Factors
GHSA’s preliminary report provides a general overview into the several crash factors and like indicators, some new, used to identify the causes behind pedestrian fatalities. These are the report’s key findings regarding crash factors such as time of day, locations of accidents, alcohol and other driver impairments such as methamphetamine, distracted drivers and pedestrians, and vehicle use.
- Time of Day: About 75 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur at night. From 2008 to 2017 the number of nighttime pedestrian fatalities increased by 45 percent, compared to a much smaller, 11 percent increase in daytime pedestrian fatalities.
- Location: The majority of pedestrian fatalities, about 60 percent, occur at non-intersection locations and local streets, followed by state highways.
- Secondary Accidents: A surprisingly large number of pedestrian fatalities – ten percent of the total – occurred on Interstates. Most of the pedestrian fatalities on Interstates involve motorists who are struck while standing outside of their cars due to mechanical issues or minor crashes.
- Smartphone Use: The number of smartphones being used while people are driving cars has increased as well as the amount of active smartphone users in general, a number that has quintupled from 2010 to 2017. GHSA officials spoke in the report citing that a sharp increasing trend in many pedestrian fatal injuries occurred while a driver was engaged in text messaging rather than conventional telephone conversation.
- Alcohol and Drug Impairment: An estimated 32 percent of fatal pedestrian crashes involved a pedestrian with a BAC of 0.08 or higher, and an estimated 17 percent of drivers involved in these crashes had a BAC of 0.08 or higher. Of those fatally-injured pedestrians that had police-reported drug involvement, the most commonly-reported drug was methamphetamine.
- Vehicle Type: The largest category of striking vehicles (42 percent of the total) was passenger cars. Although another new – but not surprising – finding showed that pedestrians struck by a large sports utility vehicle (SUV) were twice as likely to die as those struck by car, supporting a statistic shared previously by GHSA that pedestrian fatalities involving SUVs increased by 50 percent from 2013 to 2017.
Communities should continue to create safer crossing locations, especially in multilane urban arterials, often home to bus routes or areas that require pedestrians to cross busy roads. The GHSA report authors cited countermeasures such as rectangular rapid flashing beacons, curb extensions, and pedestrian refuge islands to improve pedestrian safety as well as a greater prioritization of engineering and enforcement such as improved street lighting and local efforts to reduce speed limits.
Detroit Remains Home to Escalating Pedestrian Deaths Nationwide
A 2018 article published in the Detroit Free Press found that among U.S. cities with populations of at least 200,000, Detroit had the highest pedestrian death rate in fatal traffic crashes per 100,000 residents from 2010 thru 2016. The areas of the city most susceptible for pedestrian crashes are obviously some of the busiest areas for speeding motorists and growing pedestrian traffic bubbles, and include:
- East Side of Gratiot Avenue: The stretch between Greiner Street and E. 7 Mile Road is the most treacherous, with nine pedestrian deaths between 2009-2016.
- West Side of Greenfield Road (between 6 Mile Road and 7 Mile Road): A mostly residential area with few crosswalks and a street that seems to encourage speeding, it can create a deadly recipe for distracted drivers and pedestrians alike.
- Downtown Detroit: In a one square mile area along Woodward, seven pedestrians were killed between 2009-2016.
The unfortunate reality is many times drivers involved in pedestrian accidents are never held accountable because they flee from the scene. If an at fault hit-and-run driver is never caught, a victim can still collect insurance benefits since Michigan is a No-Fault state. There are numerous ways this can be achieved, which is why having the assistance of an experienced pedestrian accident injury lawyer is not just necessary but can also be life-saving.
Michigan Pedestrian Accident Injury Attorneys
If you have any questions about Michigan pedestrian accidents, please call our office to speak with an experienced pedestrian accident injury lawyer who wants to help by simply answering your questions.
Please call Lee Free at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form. And remember, you pay nothing until we settle your bicycle and pedestrian accident case.