Pedestrian Deaths on the Rise

The number of pedestrians that are killed in accidents alone is not enough of a statistic to show that there is an increase or decline in accidents overall. This can only be proven if included in the statistics are facts about how many pedestrians there are total and how far do they walk on average. Taking this into consideration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a study and recently released a report on this very topic in 2010. It concluded that there were a total of 4,280 pedestrians killed in avoidable accidents that year, which was a four percent increase in deaths from the year before.

Still, this study failed to answer many of the questions as to why these accidents are happening in increasing numbers rather than simply what the cause was (drunk driving, etc.). Interestingly enough, around the same time this NHTSA study was released, the Centers for Disease Control released a study showing that the number of Americans who take daily walks was increasing, likely because of a felt need for more exercise throughout the week. While this may have something to do with the increased death toll, there are more conflicting factors that must be considered. For example, statistically it seems as if the pedestrians are actually at-fault in many of these fatal accidents.

80 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred when pedestrians were not at an intersection and about one third of all pedestrians killed were legally intoxicated at their times of death. It is of course perfectly legal to walk the streets while you are intoxicated, provided that you are not being a public disturbance, but this can actually increase your risk of being killed in a pedestrian accident even more so than your chances of being hit by a drunk driver. As you can see, there are people on both sides of the fence. For one, statistics seem to indicate that the majority of pedestrian accidents are the fault of the victim while other evidence suggests that the fault lies almost completely with the drivers.

It all depends on which groups of evidence are given more importance. The truth is, all of the evidence needs to be looked at as a whole. Yes, more Americans are walking than ever before. Yes, pedestrians are the cause of many fatal accidents and yes, many roads and sidewalks simply were not made for safe travel. Statistics are only valuable if the context surrounding the statistics is noted. Pedestrians who are injured or killed may have caused their own demise in many instances, but this by no means characterizes a majority of accidents. Each case needs to be evaluated individually to determine correct liability.

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