Things are bad on Texas roads. In fact, we’re nearing the top of the list of states with the most pedestrian deaths. Our state’s increase in pedestrian fatalities is part of a bigger trend. In other words, the pedestrian safety problem is bad everywhere, but it’s particularly scary in Texas.
Just how bad is it? During the first six months of 2018, the number of pedestrian deaths in the Lone Star State increased by 32 percent from the year before, bringing the total number of pedestrian fatalities during the front end of 2018 to 298. Only Georgia saw an increase that big from 2017 to 2018.
This is a National Trend, Too
An increase in pedestrian deaths isn’t unique to Texas. Nationally, there’s been a 35 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities from 2008 to 2017. When including all types of road deaths, the overall number of roadway fatalities declined 6 percent during that same period, which makes the increase in pedestrian deaths all the more concerning.
In 2018, the problem became even worse. There were 6,227 pedestrians killed on U.S. roads. It’s the first time we’ve reached these rates of pedestrian deaths in nearly 30 years.
Why are pedestrians in particular more vulnerable to injury and death than other types of road users? The group behind the numbers we’ve been discussing is the Governors Highway Safety Association, which lists several contributing factors to this troubling trend. It says that alcohol use, speeding, unsafe infrastructure and the prevalence of SUVs are putting pedestrians at a risk.
The Role of Smartphones in the Increase of Pedestrian Fatalities
The GHSA report also addressed the fact that smartphone use has increased dramatically over the last decade. This is worth focusing on. One could create a chart comparing the rise in pedestrian deaths with the use and popularity of smartphones and see an eerily similar trend. The number of smartphones in the U.S. was five times greater in 2017 than it was in 2009, when these devices first became popular among American consumers. Wireless data traffic saw an even greater jump over that period.
It’s important to note that smartphone use isn’t just a problem with vehicle drivers. Pedestrians also use smartphones at their own peril. Looking at a phone instead of focusing on the presence of an automobile increases your chance of being struck by a vehicle, and so does listening to loud music while walking.
Austin Faces Its Own Pedestrian Safety Challenges
Here in Austin, we’re also struggling to reverse this trend. In early 2019, the Texas Department of Transportation warned us, “Stay Alive, Don’t Cross I-35”; the slogan was part of an initiative to reduce pedestrian deaths around this notoriously dangerous interstate. Twenty-six signs were installed along I-35 near 51st Street to serve as warnings to those considering crossing.
This is just one example of the hazardous areas Austin pedestrians should be wary of. We can all do our part to protect these vulnerable road users. However, when it’s us or our loved ones on the receiving end of a pedestrian collision, we can hold bad drivers accountable for the harm we’ve suffered.
The Evans Law firm has years of experience helping injured people get the compensation they deserve. Contact the Austin, TX pedestrian accident attorneys at the Evans Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation.