As a Palm Springs personal injury attorney representing many pedestrians and bicyclists injured by the actions of negligent and careless motorists, roadway safety is a serious issue that doesn't get enough attention. Since 2020, there has been more than a 25% increase in pedestrian and cyclist deaths at the hands of negligent drivers. In a study exploring traffic accidents and fatalities published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, researchers found that hit and run deaths have increased significantly over the last 15 years. In the 2020 study, 69.6% of hit and run deaths were pedestrian or cyclist victims compared to only 61.1% in 2006. Another study found that approximately 1 in 4 pedestrian deaths in 2020 resulted from hit and run accidents where the driver simply left the scene. Shockingly, hitting a pedestrian isn’t always a crime. Yet, leaving the scene of a pedestrian auto accident is always a crime. In response to these alarming traffic death statistics, the National Highway Safety Administration has indicated that they will propose changes to automobile manufacturers, so there is an emphasis on safety features offering protection to those inside and outside of a motor vehicle being driven on the road.
Transportation Experts Search for Causation in Fatality Increase
Safety experts have not pinpointed the cause for the increase in traffic deaths, even those caused by hit and runs. However, they did suggest the increase could have been caused by the pandemic, which caused stark increases in distracted driving, texting, speeding, impaired driving, and road rage. Jake Nelson, Director of Traffic Safety, Advocacy, and Research at AAA found that US traffic death statistics stand out when compared to the rest of the world. His research also concluded that the safest drivers were on the road less time than higher-risk drivers, which is an interesting observation when considering the increase in fatal accidents. However, these statistics alone failed to explain why we've seen such a jump in all types of automobile-related fatalities.
Statistics show that traffic deaths per mile during the first nine months of 2021 slightly increased from 2020. Robert Schneider, a professor at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee who studies transportation, discovered an increase in hit and run traffic deaths which could be related to the decline in public transportation availability in 2020. This increase also coincided with the start of the pandemic. Statistics show that public transportation usage declined 79% compared to stats from 2016. Unfortunately, this decrease in public transportation availability could have accounted for impaired drivers being forced to drive their automobiles instead of relying on public transportation to travel while intoxicated. Alcohol and impaired driver-related fatalities increased by 14% in 2020, which was far greater than the 7.2% increase in overall traffic deaths recorded in 2019. In 2020, records indicate that 34% of traffic deaths occurred outside vehicles, which is an alarming increase. Fatalities for those using roadways outside of automobiles have been growing steadily, especially when considering those fatalities were only 20% in 1997.
Bicyclists at Risk on Most US Roadways
At the Law Office of Barry Regar, we have represented many injured pedestrians who sustained their injuries while crossing a street in a crosswalk with a pedestrian safety light. These victims were not only hit by drivers who claimed not to have seen the pedestrians in their cases, but these incidents also happened in broad daylight in spaces where pedestrians were supposed to be safe to walk. We also have represented many cyclists, and our advice has always been not to assume you are safe when using your bike on a roadway shared with an automobile – even when using a bicycle lane. Automobiles driving on roadways like Hwy 111 often exceed the posted speed limits, despite sharing the road with cyclists. On Hwy 111, cyclists riding in the bicycle lane are passed by cars going 65 mph. The bicycle lane is just a few feet away from automobiles exceeding the posted speed limit. Conditions like these put cyclists at serious risk of injury from negligent automobile operators. Any cyclist riding without a helmet or proper lighting equipment is even more in danger of being in a fatal accident.
The Law Office of Barry Regar Fights for Victims of Motor Negligence
As a lawyer serving victims of traffic accidents in the Coachella Valley for many years, our firm advises pedestrians and cyclists to be extra vigilant when walking along roadways, using crosswalks, riding a bike, or crossing intersections. Walking or using pedestrian-controlled devices in traffic is extremely dangerous. Contact the Law Office of Barry Regar for a free consultation if you’ve sustained an injury in any traffic-related accident caused by a negligent motorist. Call now at (760) 440-5643, so we can review the details of your case immediately.