One look at the way U.S. cities are built and it becomes clear that they were designed for automobile traffic. It makes sense, given that cars are how most of us get around. But a city environment favorable to cars should at least be accommodating to pedestrians. Unfortunately, pedestrian travel here in Texas and across the country is not only inconvenient; it can be deadly.
The Governors Highway Safety Association recently released a report showing that in 2018, pedestrian fatalities were the highest they have been in nearly three decades. All told, some 6,227 people were killed after being struck by automobiles. Nearly half of those fatalities occurred in just five states: Texas, Florida, Georgia, Arizona and California.
Why the sharp increase in pedestrian accidents and fatalities? According to a National Public Radio report, there are numerous contributing factors. The include:
More SUVs on the road: A greater percentage of Americans are buying larger vehicles, which are deadlier to pedestrians. These include SUVs and light trucks.
Distracted driving and walking: Both drivers and pedestrians are giving far too much attention to their phones while traveling. There are other dangerous distractions, of course, but phones still seem to be the biggest culprit.
Infrastructure designed only for automobiles: In some cities, major thoroughfares are also state highways. When pedestrians need to cross 6-8 lanes of traffic on roads with high speed limits, it’s a recipe for disaster.
Lack of crosswalks: Pedestrians are often blamed for their own injuries if they were jaywalking when they were struck. But in many cities, there simply aren’t enough crosswalks. No one should have to travel more than a few hundred feet to reach a crosswalk. In some urban areas, they may need to travel half a mile or more.
Houston was one of the cities noted by NPR to have a significant problem with pedestrian accidents and fatalities. While travel inherently comes with some dangers, we can all do more to make our streets safer for everyone.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by a negligent driver, please don’t suffer alone. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your rights and legal options.