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Pedestrian auto accidents remain high last year

Following a dramatic rise in pedestrian fatalities in 2015 and 2016, preliminary figures indicate that there was a drop of only one half of 1 percent in pedestrian deaths in 2017. The Governor's Highway Safety Administration, which issued this recent report, estimated that 5,984 pedestrians were killed in car accidents last year based on its review of statistics for the first part of the year.

According to earlier reports, the number of pedestrian deaths rose by 27 percent from 2007 to 2016. However, all other traffic fatalities dropped by 14 percent. Pedestrians now make up a larger proportion of traffic deaths, 16 percent in 2016, than they had over the past 33 years. The nation has not experienced this level of fatal pedestrian injuries for over 25 years.

Vehicle occupants have received the benefits of vehicle safety enhancements such as improved crashworthiness and accident avoidance technology. However, pedestrian remain just as susceptible to serious injuries after being struck by a vehicle.

The GHSA also attributed this rise to several causes. First, many state and local governments decriminalized the use of marijuana which impairs judgment and reaction times for all road users.

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Next, the use of smartphones has increased. These devices cause substantial distraction for all road users.

Other causes that cannot be controlled by traffic safety officials may play a part in the year-to-year changes in the number of pedestrian deaths. These include economic conditions, demographics, weather, the price of fuel, the amount of vehicle travel and the amount of time people walk.

Indiana suffered 63 pedestrian deaths for the first half of 2017. This was an alarming 50 percent rise from one year earlier.

To combat this problem, Indiana will enforce pedestrian and cyclist laws and conduct education projects contained in its 2018 Highway Safety Plan. High-visibility crosswalks, countdown crosswalks, audio crosswalks and refuge areas are contained in the state's highway plan.

As recognized by the GHSA, pedestrians have virtually no protection against a vehicle. They can suffer catastrophic injuries and even death in these crashes. An attorney may be able to help pursue compensation for victims of these tragedies caused by an impaired, distracted or negligent driver.

Source: Governors Highway Safety Administration, "Pedestrian traffic fatalities by state-2017 preliminary data," Accessed March 2, 2018

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