It’s clear that driving is the predominant mode of transportation in America. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, per se, people should be able to make other choices about how to get around. Unfortunately, our streets are not just inconvenient for pedestrians and bicyclists, they are downright deadly.
Consider the statistic that between 2010 and 2018, annual pedestrian fatalities in the United States increased by 46 percent. Why are the streets so deadly and injurious for non-drivers? This is a question with numerous answers, and they are the subject of a book recently reviewed in USA Today.
The book is called “Right Of Way,” and it examines the problem of pedestrian safety from numerous angles. Here are some of the many reasons for the dramatic increase in pedestrian injuries and deaths in recent years:
- Drivers consider pedestrians to be a nuisance, even when they are obeying traffic laws
- Speed limits are too high in pedestrian areas, and drivers still exceed those limits
- Distracted driving is a major problem that is both underreported and underenforced by police
- Crosswalks and traffic lights are too short to allow slower pedestrians enough time to safely cross the street
- SUVs are more popular than ever, and their extra height and weight make them more lethal when striking pedestrians
- News coverage of pedestrian accidents often uses language that (intentionally or unintentionally) suggests that the victims were to blame for their own injuries or deaths
It’s no secret that our infrastructure was designed around motor vehicle traffic. But those design choices seem to have created and/or strengthened an attitude that pedestrians and bicyclists do not deserve the same care and consideration as drivers do. This attitude (and the other problems mentioned above) need to change if we are going to make any progress on this deadly problem.
In the meantime, if you are a pedestrian or bicyclist, please know that you have rights that deserve to be respected. If you were seriously injured by a negligent driver, please discuss your legal options with an experienced attorney today.