On average, a pedestrian is killed every two hours and injured every eight minutes in traffic crashes. In fact, in 2011, pedestrian deaths accounted for 14% of all traffic fatalities and made up 3% of all people injured in traffic crashes in the United States. According to data from the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 4,432 pedestrian fatalities reported in 2011 due to traffic accidents, an 8% increase since 2009. An estimated 69,000 pedestrians were also injured in traffic crashes. Additionally, the 2011 report by the NHTSA also revealed the following:
• 3 out of every 4 pedestrian deaths occurred in urban areas
• 70% of those killed were at non-intersections
• 70% of pedestrian deaths occurred at night
• Alcohol involvement–either for the driver or the pedestrian–was reported in 48% of all fatal pedestrian crashes
In an effort to combat the rising number of deaths over the last two years and educate communities on safety measures, the U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced a new campaign, “Everyone is a Pedestrian,” in August 2013. Besides providing grants to the cities with the highest rate of pedestrian deaths, the NHTSA, together with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), launched a website with safety tips and resources for local leaders, officials, parents and other involved in improving pedestrian safety.
Notably, according to the NHTSA, the State of Texas is one of 22 cities in the U.S. where pedestrian deaths are greater than the national average, making Texas eligible to apply for a total of $2 million to be used for education and enforcement initiatives under the campaign. Indeed, Texas pedestrian fatalities account for 14% of the total traffic fatalities in Texas. Unfortunately, at the same time, the Texas cities of San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth, Houston, and Dallas were also selected by the FHWA in 2011 as focus cities. Focus cities are selected based on the number of pedestrian fatalities or the pedestrian fatality rate per population. More specifically, cities are selected as pedestrian focus cities if they have more than 20 average annual pedestrian fatalities or a pedestrian fatality rate greater than 2.33 per 100,000.
Fortunately, the State of Texas is also taking steps to combat its own grim statistics. Earlier this year, the Texas Legislature unanimously passed legislation (SB 275) known as the “hit-and-run bill” to stiffen penalties for fatal hit-and-run accidents. Alcohol is often a factor in hit-and-run accidents, where people often flee the scene to avoid intoxication-related charges. Additionally, as noted above, alcohol is involved in 48% of all pedestrian fatalities. Prior to the law’s passage, the penalties for intoxication manslaughter and hit-and-run were vastly different. The penalty for intoxication manslaughter was second-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Meanwhile, failure to stop and render aid was a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years and a $10,000. With the passage of SB 275, effective September 1, however, a hit-and-run with injury now becomes a second-degree felony punishable with a $10,000 and up to 20 years in prison. The legislature hopes the passage of this bill will lead to fewer intoxicated drivers fleeing the scene after an accident.
Since pedestrians are unprotected when struck by vehicles, pedestrian accidents often result in death and serious injuries such as broken bones, spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries. Indeed, pedestrians can be killed or injured in various types of car accidents caused by a driver’s neligence, including but not limited to the following: hit-and-run accidents, drunk driving, distracted driving accidents, speeding, and crosswalk and intersection accidents. If you or a family member was involved in a pedestrian accident caused by a driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to recover compensation for these injuries. Call the San Antonio personal injury attorneys of Carabin & Shaw today at 1-800-862-1260.
DOT Unveils New Tools to Help Communities Keep Pedestrians Safe, National Highway Safety Administration
Traffic Safety Facts-2011 Data, National Highway Safety Administration
In an Accident, Drivers Have New Reasons Not to Run, by Justin Dehn and Elizabeth Koh, The Texas Tribune
Summer is the Deadliest Time of Year for Teen Drivers in Texas and Nationwide, Texas Injury Lawyers Blog, July 11, 2013
Wrong Way Drivers on Texas Roads, Texas Injury Lawyers Blog, June 10, 2013