North Carolina Sees Increased Number of Pedestrian Fatalities
More pedestrians were killed by cars in 2010 than in previous years, according to a newly released report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). After four years of declining pedestrian fatalities, 2010 saw an increase in injuries to pedestrians hit by cars.
While only a slight rise in pedestrian fatalities during the first six months of 2010, the increase came at a time when other highway fatalities were declining. While the exact breakdown of pedestrian deaths by age has not yet been released, the trend appears that fewer school-age children are being harmed and more baby boomers are being hit.
No studies have been conducted to determine exactly why more pedestrian accidents are occurring, but researchers speculate that an increased number of electronic distractions -both distracted drivers on the roads talking on cell phones and texting while driving and pedestrians listening to music or texting while walking – is the primary reason for the increase. One researcher noted that people walking with headphones on or cell phones in hand “are not paying attention and they are getting clobbered.”
Researchers think another reason for the rise in pedestrian accidents is because there are more pedestrians on the streets. A greater interest in fitness, coupled with increased gas prices and environmental awareness, may have resulted in more people walking, thus increasing the chances of a car colliding with a pedestrian.
Surprisingly, North Carolina has one of the largest increases in pedestrian accidents and fatalities. Researchers expected high-population states with large urban areas and states with higher percentages of older adults to top the list, but that was not the case. It is not clear why North Carolina saw a rise in pedestrian fatalities.
While pedestrians still make up a small portion of transportation and roadway deaths – only 12 percent nationwide – they are still being harmed at an alarming rate and have a definite economic impact. One GHSA spokesperson noted, “It’s an enormous expense, but people don’t realize it. And a large portion of it is borne by the public. It’s something everyone should be concerned about.”