We’ve written before on the Buttafuoco & Associates blog about the alarming increase in reckless driving, excessive speeding, and impaired driving in the United States. The good news is that despite this increase, vehicle fatalities have gone down 24% since the year 2000. At the same time, however, we’ve noticed another disturbing trend: pedestrian deaths have increased 37% over the same time span.
In fact, according to the 2022 Dangerous by Design report released by Smart Growth America, New Jersey ranks as the 19th most dangerous state for pedestrians, with 1.96 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons behind this troubling trend and whether a Northern New Jersey pedestrian accident lawyer can help you.
Why the Increase in Pedestrian Deaths?
The increase in pedestrian deaths is attributable to many of the same factors that have made our roads more dangerous in the past several years, including frayed social norms, impaired driving, and distracted driving. However, our Northern New Jersey pedestrian accident attorneys have identified three factors that are unique to the danger to pedestrians:
- increased size of motor vehicles,
- focus on speed and car-centered road design, and
- lack of pedestrian and cycling protections.
Increased Vehicle Size
As SUVs and trucks have become more and more popular in the United States, the average size of vehicles on the road has increased significantly. Unfortunately, this increased size has made walking more dangerous. First, SUVs and other large vehicles are significantly more likely to strike pedestrians while making turns, suggesting that larger vehicles afford poor visibility of street-level pedestrians. Second, the larger size means that collisions are more deadly because heavier vehicles take longer to stop and impact with greater force; researchers have found that for every 1,000 lbs. added to a vehicle, there’s a 50% increase in the chance that pedestrian accidents are fatal.
Focus on Speed in Road Design
One of the key aspects of U.S. road design that makes roads so dangerous for pedestrians is that the goal is to move as many cars through as possible. In New Jersey, as in many parts of the country, these high-speed roadways are often next to destinations or streets where pedestrians are likely to be walking; this is a deadly recipe, where putting high speed traffic alongside unprotected pedestrians often results in disaster.
If you have encountered such a situation as a pedestrian, a Northern New Jersey pedestrian accident attorney may be able to help you establish a case and determine your next steps.
Lack of Pedestrian Safety and Cyclist Protections
Since the 1950s, infrastructure design in this country has been particularly automobile- focused, since cars are the primary means of transit. Infrastructure projects typically focus on adding lanes and accommodating an ever-increasing car burden. Crosswalks are often treacherous, crossing high-speed roads with four to eight lanes of traffic, and sidewalks are narrow, if they are present at all.
One of the key aspects highlighted by the Dangerous by Design study is the alarming racial and economic disparity visible in the pedestrian fatality data. Minority and low-income communities are especially at risk since they are far less likely to have a marked crosswalk and sidewalk; they’re also more likely to be on major through roads with high speeds and traffic volume.
How Can an Attorney Help You?
If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one due to our dangerous roads, it’s possible that you have a wrongful death case. An experienced pedestrian accident attorney in Northern New Jersey can help you navigate the legal system and fight for your rights. At Buttafuoco & Associates, we will negotiate with your insurance company and advocate for fair compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Call 1-800-NOW-HURT to schedule a free consultation with our experienced personal injury lawyers at Buttafuoco & Associates.