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Climb in Fatality Rate among Pedestrians Seen as indicator of Distracted Driving’s Effects

Man walking gets hit by car

Over the past three years, the rate of fatalities on US roads has steadily climbed in nearly all categories, but one of the groups most affected by this rise in roadway deaths is pedestrians. Learn more about this troubling climb in death rates among pedestrians, and contact an experienced Hilo injury attorney if you’ve been injured in a pedestrian accident in Hawaii.

Pedestrians and non-vehicle occupants some of most threatened on the road

Statistics recently released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that fatalities on US roads rose yet again in 2016. According to the NHTSA, 37,461 people died in or near motor vehicles in 2016, a 5.6% increase over the total number of roadway deaths in 2015. Pedestrian deaths rose at an even higher rate; 5,987 pedestrians were killed on the road, which is a 9% rise over last year’s total, and the largest number of pedestrian deaths in a single year since 1990. Bicyclist and motorcyclist fatalities also rose last year, by 1.3% and 5.1%, respectively. Non-vehicle occupants (pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists) now account for roughly a third of all roadway deaths, despite making up only a quarter of all such deaths ten years ago. Pedestrian deaths alone have risen by 22% since 2014.

Distractions believed to be a factor in rise of non-vehicle occupant deaths

According to the NHTSA, roadway fatalities linked to distractions fell by 2.2% in 2016, accounting for 3,450 fatalities. However, many experts believe that these numbers do not paint an accurate picture of the effects of distractions—specifically, those posed by mobile phone use—on drivers. Detecting when a driver was using their cell phone prior to a crash isn’t easy without an eyewitness, since drivers rarely admit to this behavior.

One factor often cited by experts as evidence of the effect of cell phone use behind the wheel is the rise in non-vehicle occupant deaths. Someone busy using their phone might only scan the roadway occasionally to look for large objects in their path. When only looking up briefly, drivers are more apt to miss smaller objects such as pedestrians and bicycles which require more attention to detect. Victims of these types of accidents may be able to use witnesses to the accident, security camera footage, and accident reconstruction experts to prove that a driver was negligently distracted before a crash to support a claim for damages.

If you’ve been injured in a Hawaii traffic accident and want help getting the money you need after a crash, contact the seasoned and effective Hilo personal injury lawyer Louis P. Mendonca for a consultation, at 808-961-6690.

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