Pedestrians are by far and large the most vulnerable individuals on public roadways. Having virtually nothing to protect them against serious injuries in accidents involving motor vehicles, pedestrians are tasked with always being vigilant and aware of their surroundings when sharing walkways, parking lots, side streets and intersections with motorists. Unfortunately, as recently released statistics make clear, even the most safety-focused pedestrian can fall victim to the negligent and unlawful acts of drivers.

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), pedestrians today face incredible risks of injury and death on U.S. roads. Some of the key findings from the data include:

  • From 2009 to 2016, the last year of available data, the number of pedestrian deaths in America rose by almost 50%.
  • A total of 5,987 pedestrians were killed on U.S. roads during that eight-year period – the most in U.S. history since 1990.
  • According to projections from federal officials, the pedestrian death toll in 2017 is expected to match or slightly exceed figures reported in 2016.

The sharp rise in pedestrian fatalities, the expected consistency of high fatality rates, and the thousands of additional non-fatal cases involving catastrophically injured victims are prompting substantial concern among federal regulators. In fact, the numbers were a motivating factor behind the National Transportation Safety Board’s recommendation for a major safety overhaul that focuses directly on pedestrian safety.

NTSB Pedestrian Safety Recommendations

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is a federal agency responsible for investigating major incidents and trends involving transportation safety. Though the NTSB cannot pass or enforce legislation, it does have the power to compile data and research for the purpose of making recommendations to other federal agencies with the ability to enact needed changes.

That’s precisely what NTSB officials did in a recent report sent to NTHSA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Federal Highway Administration (FHA). The report details a three-pronged approach for addressing pedestrian safety improvements related to vehicles, infrastructure, and better data-collection procedures to assess and refine safety standards.

Some of the pedestrian safety improvements recommended by the NTSB include:

  • Vehicle improvements and safety standards – The NTSB targets the auto industry and regulations on vehicles to ensure they’re as safe as possible in terms of potential risks posed to pedestrians. Among these recommendations are better testing procedures for evaluating vehicle headlight systems, blocking limitations on advanced vehicle lighting technology that have proven safety benefits, pedestrian injury mitigation features on vehicle bumper and hood designs, and pedestrian-safety ratings for all new vehicles.
  • Infrastructure improvements – The NTSB made a number of recommendations for improving infrastructure with the safety of pedestrians in mind. These include more effective street designs, collaboration between city planners and pedestrian safety experts, and better funding for local and state governments. Specifically, the NTSB recommends installing more medians, building more sidewalks and lane reductions, improving street lighting at night, and the wide-scale adoption of automatic speed enforcement technology.
  • Better data collection – The NTSB made it a point to address the importance of improving the collection of data regarding pedestrian accidents in order to localize street design and planning efforts and implement needed measures that address the most pressing risks in cities. That’s because street designs and safety protocol are highly dependent on context and statistics.
  • Other recommendations – The NTSB also advises regulators to consider the benefits of other needed improvements, including public education about pedestrian traffic laws and safety, encouraging pedestrians to find other safer forms of transportation when available and better enforcement of laws against drunk driving and distracted driving.

Pedestrian Accidents & Victims’ Rights

Until changes are implemented, pedestrians will continue to face some of the greatest risks on our road. For those who do suffer harm in preventable pedestrian accidents or for families who lose loved ones in fatal incidents, the civil justice system can provide an opportunity to obtain justice and compensation, and potentially send the message that significant change is needed now.

At Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather & Littky-Rubin, our West Palm Beach attorneys leverage more than 200 years of combined experience when fighting for clients across Florida in a range of personal injury and wrongful death cases, including those involving pedestrian and motor vehicle accidents. If you or someone you love has been harmed by the negligence of another, our firm is available to discuss your rights. Contact us online or call (561) 922-0258 for a FREE case evaluation.