Recent research shows that pedestrian fatalities are on the rise in the United States. Fatality rates for pedestrians surged 25 percent from 2010 to 2015, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Overall traffic fatalities rose by 6 percent during the same time frame. The trend for pedestrian deaths is not promising, with more fatalities being reported each year.
Where Does New Jersey Rank?
So how does New Jersey stack up for pedestrian safety? The statistics, calculated on a per capita basis, put New Jersey in the 15th most dangerous state for pedestrians. What may seem surprising from the nationwide study is that most of the tragedies do not occur at intersections. In fact, 72 percent of fatal accidents involving a person on foot occur in non-intersection locations along travel lanes. Eighteen percent arise in or near an intersection, while only 10 percent occur in non-travel lane locations, such as on the shoulder of a road or in a driveway.
It Is Not Just More Cars And More Pedestrians Leading To More Accidents
Cleary, as stated above, the research shows that overall motor vehicle related fatalities have increased in recent years. The researchers acknowledge that increased traffic on our nation’s road is part of the story. However, distractions -distracted drivers as well as distracted pedestrians – are a strong contributing factor to the rise in traffic and pedestrian fatalities, according to the study.
Joggers may be lost in a stream of music pumping through their headphones, reducing their awareness of their surroundings. Cellphone use among drivers and walkers alike is far more common that most New Jersey residents may want to acknowledge – at least when it comes to their own cellphone use.
Other hazards that increase risks for pedestrians include:
- Alcohol use -both among walkers and drivers
- Weather conditions
- Visibility concerns, especially at night with 74 percent of fatal accidents occurring in the dark
- Faulty infrastructure
Most pedestrian accidents occur in urban areas. However, the researchers believe there is some data to show that, while cities remain dangerous, the pedestrian accident rate is increasing in suburban areas, as well as in smaller towns and rural areas.
Public awareness programs are underway across the country aimed at reducing fatalities among joggers and walkers. Even with efforts to raise awareness, improve infrastructure and enforce laws aimed at public safety, the trend is disturbing.