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Pedestrian Fatalities Projected to Reach Highest Level in 40 Years


According to a press release from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), pedestrian deaths across the country are at a 40-year high. Based on crash data collected from state and federal agencies, the GHSA reports that 7,485 people on foot were killed in a single year. That equates to an average of 20 fatalities per day, the most deaths in a single-year period in more than four decades. While traffic deaths have increased by 13 percent overall over the past decade, pedestrian deaths have risen 54 percent over the same period of time.

The Pedestrian Fatalities by State report examines the leading factors in fatal pedestrian accidents across the nation and breaks down accident rates by state. In Ohio, pedestrian deaths were up 16.6 percent from 2020 to 2021, a trend reflected in many regions across the country. The GHSA report is comprehensive and includes detailed information about how and why pedestrian deaths occur across the nation.

Here are the key factors in fatal pedestrian accidents across the United States:

  • Speed: In 2020, the number of speed-related pedestrian deaths increased from 7.2 percent to 8.6 percent from the year before. That risk of death for pedestrians increases exponentially the faster the vehicle is moving.
  • Time of day: Pedestrian deaths occur most often in the dark or in areas with limited visibility. In 2020, more than three-quarters of fatal pedestrian accidents happened at night.
  • Type of vehicle: Historically, drivers operating passenger cars were involved in the most pedestrian deaths. Yet, that has changed in recent years. Over the past decade, the number of SUVs involved in pedestrians deaths has gone up by 36 percent compared to deaths involving passenger cars, which have gone up 27 percent.
  • Lack of sidewalks: Sidewalks create a barrier to protect pedestrians from traffic. Without this barrier, pedestrians are exposed to motor vehicle traffic. In 2020, 67 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred in areas where no sidewalks were noted.
  • Type of road: Non-freeway, arterial roads designed for large volumes of fast-moving traffic are the most dangerous for pedestrians to navigate. In 2020, 60 percent of all pedestrian deaths happened on these types of roads.

Who Is Responsible for a Pedestrian Accident?

In a car accident that involves a pedestrian, the driver is usually at fault. That is because under most traffic laws, drivers have a greater responsibility to protect pedestrians. Drivers have a duty to operate their vehicle in a safe and responsible way that helps protect their passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians.

Pedestrians also have a duty to use reasonable care when they encounter motor vehicles. They must obey local traffic signs and laws and check before entering the roadway or crossing the street.

When an accident happens, an investigation takes place to uncover the facts. To make this determination, police, insurance companies, and attorneys look at the following:

  • Police reports.
  • Witness statements.
  • Accident reconstruction.
  • Photos and videos of the crash site.

If their case is strong, a pedestrian who is hit by a car in Ohio can recover compensation for their losses. These losses may include money for injuries, medical bills, and lost wages due to an accident.

It is important to note that Ohio auto insurance system is fault-based. That means the party who caused the pedestrian accident is typically responsible for any accident-related costs. If the pedestrian successfully proves the driver was negligent and caused the crash, they may be able to pursue an insurance settlement or go a step further and sue the driver for compensation in civil court.

Proving Negligence in an Accident Where a Pedestrian Is Injured

Whether the injured pedestrian pursues compensation for losses through insurance or litigation, they must prove the driver was negligent. Four elements must be present for negligence to exist in an accident case:

  • The driver had a responsibility to protect the pedestrian by operating their vehicle in a safe and lawful manner.
  • The driver breached that duty by acting negligently in some way.
  • The driver’s careless act directly caused the accident that involved the pedestrian.
  • As a result of the accident, the pedestrian suffered physical, emotional, and/or financial harm.

Driver Negligence

Ohio law prohibits driving at a speed higher than what is reasonable. Speeding drivers reduce the time and distance they have to respond to a person or object in their path. However, speeding is not the only risky behavior that leads to fatal crashes.

Other examples of driver negligence include drunk driving, distracted driving, and drowsy driving. When a driver’s ability to detect, process, and react to what is happening around them is compromised for any reason, they are unsafe to drive and become a danger to those around them.

How to Avoid Pedestrian Accident: Tips for Drivers?

As the GHSA report shows, pedestrians are more vulnerable than ever, but the ongoing increase in pedestrian fatalities can be slowed. Every driver has a responsibility to protected pedestrians. That means slowing down in areas with high foot traffic, yielding to crossing pedestrians, and observing bus rules when school is in session. Drivers should always be alert, sober, and well-rested each and every time they get behind the wheel.

How to Avoid Pedestrian Accident: Tips for Pedestrians ?

Pedestrians are obviously more susceptible to serious and fatal injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), if they are involved in a collision with a motor vehicle. It is vital for anyone who walks, jogs, or runs to do their part to prevent traffic accidents.

Pedestrians should never assume that a driver can see them. While it is good to make eye contact with an approaching driver, that does not guarantee the driver is sober or prepared to stop.

Always cross the street in the crosswalk. In areas without designated pedestrian crossing areas, stop and look both ways before crossing. Avoid crossing between parked cars whenever possible.

Pedestrians can also protect themselves by being as visible as possible. They can do this by wearing bright, reflective clothing. At night, carry a flashlight and/or wear illuminated hats, belts, and vests to ensure drivers can see you.

The warm summer weather has reached the Midwest, and that means more people walking, jogging, and bicycling on Ohio streets. The GHSA report underscores the urgent need to raise awareness and enforcement to protect those on foot from careless drivers. If you have been hurt in any type of motor vehicle accident, contact a lawyer to discuss your case and determine if compensation is possible.

Loveland Personal Injury Lawyers at the Wolterman Law Office Advocate for Pedestrians Injured by Careless Drivers

If you have been injured by a negligent driver, trust one of our Loveland personal injury lawyers at the Wolterman Law Office to lead your claim. Call us at 513-488-1135 or submit our online form to schedule a free consultation. Located in Loveland, Ohio, we represent clients across Hamilton County, Fairfield, Norwood, and Forest Park.