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Fatal Pedestrian Accidents in the US Hit Record-Breaking High in 2015, Federal Data Reveal - Chappell Smith & Arden


For the first time in about four decades, pedestrian deaths in the U.S. have hit a record high, surging more than 10 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).

This reportedly reflects the largest annual increase in pedestrian deaths in the U.S. since this data was first recorded (in 1975), officials have revealed, generating a new wave of public safety concerns.

A Closer Look at the Findings

The details of the GHSA’s findings on pedestrian deaths have been published in a report entitled, Spotlight on Highway Safety2. Taking a closer look at the findings reveals that, in 2015:

  • Pedestrian deaths represented about 15 percent of the total traffic-related fatalities. Since 2005, this percentage has increased about 4 percent.
  • More than 40 percent of the pedestrian fatalities recorded in 2015 came from one of the following four states: New York, California, Texas or Florida.
  • When analyzing the incidence of fatal pedestrian accidents per population, the states with the highest rates of pedestrian deaths included Florida, Delaware and Arizona.
  • Only Wyoming, Maine, and Utah saw no increase (or decrease) in the rate of pedestrian fatalities.

Officials Attempt to Explain the Surge

Although officials are still analyzing the traffic data from 2015, they have issued some preliminary explanations as to why 2015 saw such a dramatic spike in pedestrian deaths (when compared to previous years). Some of these explanations have included that, in 2015:

  • There was a remarkable increase in miles driven – In fact, American motorists drove more than 3 trillion miles on U.S. roads in 2015 (marking a substantial increase from miles driven in 2014). Likely explanations for this phenomenon, according to researchers, are the decreases in fuel prices and the continuing decline in the unemployment rate.
  • There was a significant increase in the number of pedestrians sharing the roads with motorists – While the surge in pedestrians/the walking has been tied to economic and environmental reasons, it has also been linked to health reasons.
  • There was a spike in the use of cellphones among pedestrians – In other words, distractions among pedestrians seems to be a significant contributing factor to the rise in pedestrian fatalities last year.

Commenting on this report’s findings and potential impacts, Report Co-author Richard Retting has stated:

We are projecting the largest year-to-year increase in pedestrian fatalities since national records have been kept, and therefore we are quite alarmed…Pedestrian safety is clearly a growing problem across the country. It is important to understand the data underlying these crashes so states and localities can apply the right mix of engineering, education and enforcement to counteract this troubling trend.

Contact a Columbia SC Personal Injury Lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Attorneys at Law

If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident or any type of traffic crash, contact a Columbia SC personal injury lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. for clear answers about your rights and options for proceeding, as well as effective legal advocacy moving forward.

Call our firm at 866-881-8623 or email us via the contact form on this page to set up a free, no obligations initial consult with one of our lawyers. During this meeting, you can find out more about your rights, as well as how we can help you.


1: Full report available here

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