Pedestrian Deaths Climb
This appears to be due to a combination of three main factors:
In an effort to avoid getting behind the wheel intoxicated and emboldened by the buzz of alcohol, many are taking the streets by foot after a night of drinking.
A third of pedestrians killed in crashes in 2016 were over the legal limit, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That number comes to 2,000 people, which is 300 more than in 2014.
Many programs have been implemented to combat impaired driving such as checkpoints and ride services like Uber, which have likely contributed to the decline. But now it is time to redirect efforts to pedestrian safety. It is important that efforts to make pedestrian safety a priority don’t come off as shaming those who are opting to walk rather than get behind the wheel – as that is a decision that protects the most lives. Rather, city officials are working to promote being seen while walking (with reflective gear and always staying in the proper pedestrian lanes).
Walking while distracted – most commonly while using a cell phone – is just as dangerous as driving. Without your full attention on where you are walking, you lower your ability to make yourself seen. Distraction causes pedestrians to sway into the road, cross streets at inappropriate times and make poor decisions that weren’t full thought through.
Additionally, wearing headphones can lessen your ability to hear oncoming traffic.
Non-Pedestrian Friendly Infrastructure:
The urban parts of the Carolinas are rapidly expanding and it is difficult for city roads to match the growth. Many have a shortage of convenient crossing locations and sidewalks. One solution to combat the problem involves not only adding more cross walks to prevent j-walking but to give them flashing light features for pedestrians to alert motorists at night.
A report conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety outlines efforts to make crossing zones more visible, poorly lit areas brighter and public transportation more accessible as a start to ending this rising issue. These are part of a broader initiative known as “road diets,” in which the number of travel lanes for vehicle traffic is reduced, which reduces the number of lanes for pedestrians to cross and could in turn lower vehicle speeds as well.
The entire study conducted by IIHS can be found here.