Pedestrian fatalities in New York and around the country have risen by an alarming 51 percent over the last 10 years. The 6,227 killed in 2018 is the highest annual pedestrian death toll since 1990, according to a report released recently by the Governors Highway Safety Administration. While studies reveal that foot traffic has increased slightly in recent years, most experts put the rise in pedestrian deaths down to other factors such as the growing popularity of SUVs and the widespread use of cell phones by drivers.
Falling gas prices and low interest rates are prompting many Americans to purchase a large SUV instead of a car, and these vehicles now account for 6 out of every 10 passenger vehicles sold in the United States. This worries road safety advocates because a study published in 2018 concluded that the high front ends of SUVs and full-sized pickup trucks make the vehicles twice as deadly as cars in pedestrian accidents. The GHSA report seems to back up this conclusion as it reveals that the number of pedestrians killed by SUVs has increased by 50 percent since 2013.
Cell phone statistics are even more worrying to safety groups. The number of active smartphones in the United States has grown by more than 500 percent since 2010, and the amount of data used by these devices has risen by a staggering 4,000 percent. These figures are especially concerning because almost half of the drivers polled by research groups admit to using their cell phones while behind the wheel on a regular basis.
Pedestrian collisions that involve death or serious injury are generally investigated thoroughly by the police, and the reports they compile after completing their inquiries may provide evidence that could be used to establish negligence in civil actions brought by motor vehicle accident victims or their dependent family members. Experienced personal injury attorneys could also introduce records from wireless service providers showing that drivers were using their cell phones when they crashed.