Rise of Pedestrian Deaths in Washington in 2015

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If early estimates are correct, Washington could be looking at 2015 as the biggest year-to-year increase in pedestrian deaths since records began in 1975. State officials are looking at the numbers as a drastic warning that we need to do more to prevent pedestrian deaths in Washington State, according to a Seattle Times article. 

The Governors Highway Safety Association released a report containing traffic fatality data for the first half of 2015. During that time, 2,368 pedestrians sustained fatal injuries nationwide in the six-month period. Compared to the 2,232 in the previous year during that timeframe, there was a six percent increase. 

In the past five years, roughly 25 percent more pedestrian deaths occurred in the last six months of the year. The later year increase is mainly due to warmer weather in the summer making it more appealing for people to go out walking. 

In relation to the nation’s 10 percent increase, Washington State data is looking grim. In the first six months of 2015, 41 pedestrians lost their lives in traffic crashes, compared to 32 in 2014. This 28 percent increase was a major factor in the increase in overall traffic deaths, which had been in a downward trend for the past decade. 

Evaluating the Causes of Increased Pedestrian Deaths 

There are many aspects to consider when looking for an answer to the reason for increased pedestrian fatalities. First, more people are choosing to walk for health and environmental issues. Washington experienced a mild winter in 2015, which created more optimal days for pedestrians to head outside. 

Another reason is that more drivers are using cell phones while driving, raising the risk of crashes due to distraction. More drivers were also on the roads in 2015 due to the low gas prices and drove more miles that year than in previous years with higher fuel prices, according to the report. 

Most Pedestrian Deaths Are Preventable 

Increasing safety of pedestrians takes several courses of action. Government officials need to improve pedestrian infrastructure by creating safer sidewalks and designated crossings. Drivers must remain alert at all times and yield to pedestrians when necessary. 

Pedestrians can also take their safety into their own hands by checking out these pedestrian safety tips and obeying all traffic signals and only walking in designated paths and crosswalks. Elderly pedestrians need to take special care while walking as accidents can be significantly worse for older Seattle residents. 

Pedestrians also need to take more care walking at night. According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, nearly three-quarters of fatal pedestrian accidents occur after dark. Walking in daylight hours or wearing bright clothing with reflective or illuminated accessories could help increase visibility. Many of the pedestrians who died in nighttime accidents were also intoxicated at the time of the crash; intoxicated drivers only increased the risk. 

Busses also appear to be a major problem in the cause of pedestrian deaths nationwide. Busses in the U.S. have blind spots caused by "A pillars" that connect the windshield to the window on the driver's side. The Amalgamated Transit Union estimates that one pedestrian sustains fatal injuries in a pedestrian accident every 10 days due to these blind spots. Therefore, when pedestrians are walking near busses, they should remember to remain alert. 

Help After a Fatal Accident 

Because many pedestrian accident deaths are the result of negligent drivers, the pedestrian's loved ones may have the option of filing a wrongful death claim. If you have lost a family member in a pedestrian accident in Seattle, contact Max Meyers Law, PLLC. We will schedule a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your potential claim: 425-399-7000.

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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.