Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and partner.
Newly-released data indicates that pedestrian deaths increased by approximately 10 percent in 2015 over 2014, according to a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association. The annual report analyzes data provided each year by all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Authors of the report expressed alarm in projecting the largest year-to-year increase in pedestrian fatalities since 1975, when national record-keeping began. In addition to the overall increase in pedestrian fatalities, pedestrians now account for almost 15% of all motor vehicle crash-related deaths, as compared to about 11% ten years ago. “Pedestrian safety is clearly a growing problem across the country. It is important to understand the data underlying these crashes so states and localities can apply the right mix of engineering, education and enforcement to counteract this troubling trend.”
Several factors are thought to have contributed to such a dramatic increase in pedestrian deaths for 2015, including:
- Increase in motor vehicle travel, associated with lower fuel prices and improved economy;
- Growing use of cell phones among walkers and drivers;
- “Vehicles are becoming more and more “crashworthy,” meaning the likelihood of drivers and passengers surviving a crash is improving all the time. By contrast, pedestrians remain just as susceptible to injuries when hit by a motor vehicle.”
- Increase in the number of Americans walking for health, economic or environmental reasons.
Along with the annual report produced by GHSA, states shared examples of strategies to reduce pedestrian and motor vehicle collisions, including some of the most promising ideas:
- “Targeted traffic enforcement coupled with public information campaigns;
- Data analysis and mapping to identify high-risk zones;
- Community-based pedestrian safety assessments and road safety audits;
- Strategic partnerships with universities or other organizations.”
Although traffic death totals have been trending downward over the past ten years, in 2015 that number increased by an estimated 8 percent. Pedestrian fatalities, increasing since 2005, now account for 15 percent of total traffic deaths, the largest percentage in 25 years.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data, the steep increase in roadway deaths has prompted its first regional summit to drive traffic safety behavior changes. “We’re seeing red flags across the U.S. and we’re not waiting for the situation to develop further,” said Dr. Mark Rosekind, NHTSA Administrator. “It’s time to drive behavioral changes in traffic safety and that means taking on new initiatives and addressing persistent issues like drunk driving and failure to wear seat belts.”
“The NHTSA summit meetings are expected to address drunk, drugged, distracted and drowsy driving; speeding; failure to use safety features such as seat belts and child seats; and new initiatives to protect vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.”
Distracted driving, especially among teens, has become a much more serious driving issue in recent years. As part of my volunteer community service program, I give free presentations to area schools about distracted driving in an effort to teach young people the importance of driving carefully and to empower them to be sure they do not allow others to drive while distracted, at least not while they are in the car.
If you, your child’s PTSA, or your child’s school would like to know more about my presentation, please contact me.
About the author:
Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. The association recently named him “Trial Lawyer of the Year”. Super Lawyers recently named him among the “Top Ten” lawyers in the Metro Area (out of more than 80,000 attorneys). He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a “Big Gun” and among the “top 100″ lawyers in the entire metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as “one of Washington’s best-most honest and effective lawyers” who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority, and other automobile owners. His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA. Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of “The Best Lawyers in America” by Best Lawyers (2014 edition) and has been repeatedly named a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyer magazine (2014) – national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.