In recent years, pedestrian deaths caused by vehicles have been on the rise. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), pedestrian deaths went up 9.5 percent in 2015 and 9 percent in 2016. The most recent statistics from 2017 show a similar rate as that of 2016. Overall, these figures indicate that more people in recent years suffered fatal injuries in collisions with vehicles than in years prior to 2015.
Experts and analysts are concerned about this trend. Pedestrian deaths now appear to be at the highest rates in over two decades. For people who regularly walk on sidewalks or streets, there's a serious risk of injury or death when crossing paths with vehicular traffic. Those driving vehicles face serious liability and the potential for injury if they get into an accident with a pedestrian.
Distraction is a factor in some of these crashes
When pedestrian traffic intersects with vehicle traffic, there are many risk factors involved. Distraction is a serious issue both for those driving motor vehicles and those walking in public. A distracted driver will react to a pedestrian more slowly. In some cases, distracted drivers may not notice pedestrians until after a crash occurs. Other times, they simply don't respond quickly enough to the presence of pedestrians.
Many people walking on the road or sidewalk may be engage with their cellphones. Whether on a call, texting a friend or Googling the latest meme, those using cellphones pay less attention to their surroundings. This increases the risk of their mindlessly stepping into traffic or stumbling due to an obstacle.
Colorado's legal marijuana may be a factor as well
Experts have also expressed concern that legalized recreational marijuana may also play a contributing role in this recent increase. Some people may choose to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana. That could increase their reaction times and the potential for a pedestrian collision.
Similarly, pedestrians under the influence of marijuana are also a risk factor. While there is no law against walking while under the influence of marijuana, it may result in poor decision-making and longer reaction times. Intoxicated pedestrians could wander into traffic or make other decisions that put themselves at risk.
Injured pedestrians are often entitled to compensation for injuries
In cases where a driver's negligence causes a crash, a pedestrian may have the right to pursue a lawsuit against the driver. Cases involving marijuana intoxication or distracted driving could result in a personal injury lawsuit against the driver.
A pedestrian crash often results in serious injuries or even death. The injured person or their surviving family members have the right to hold the negligent driver accountable for his or her poor decisions.