It seems like driving continues to get safer all the time because new automotive technology helps protect vehicle occupants against human error. Back-up cameras, blind-spot warnings, automatic braking and adaptive cruise control are just some of the technological advancements protecting people inside a vehicle.
But one group isn’t benefitting from these advancements: pedestrians. In fact, rates of pedestrian injuries and deaths nationwide have been increasing for the past decade. The 2021 edition of an annual study called “Dangerous By Design” notes that between 2010 and 2019, the number of fatal pedestrian accidents in the United States rose by an astonishing 45 percent. California ranked as the 16th most dangerous state in terms of pedestrian deaths, with 7,891 deaths over the past decade.
As you might expect, risks are not shared equally
Traffic accidents involving pedestrians shouldn’t be a racial or socioeconomic issue, but it apparently is. People of color are more likely to be victims of pedestrian accidents than white people are, with African-Americans showing the biggest disparity. The fatal accident rate for Black pedestrians was 82 percent higher than for those who were White.
Low-income neighborhoods are also significantly more likely than affluent or middle-class neighborhoods to be the scene of a fatal pedestrian accident. This is largely due to the fact that low-income neighborhoods often lack pedestrian safety infrastructure like marked crosswalks, sidewalks or thoughtful street design.
Finally, people over the age of 50 were more likely to be struck and killed than younger people. This is likely because as people age, they generally don’t move as quickly and often suffer from vision or hearing impairment that could make it more difficult to avoid traffic.
A problem of misplaced priorities
According to the study, politicians and those in charge of traffic policy continue to prioritize the convenience of drivers over the safety of pedestrians. If asked to choose between greater speeds for cars and lower pedestrian death and injury rates, those in charge too often choose speed.
Many public safety campaigns also continue to push the victim-blaming message that pedestrians need to be entirely responsible for their own safety, while putting none of the burden on drivers or poor infrastructure. This is not only ineffective – it is also insulting.
If you’ve been injured, you have options
If you have been struck and seriously injured while walking here in Orange County, don’t be so quick to believe those who tell you it was your fault. The driver of the vehicle or even poor road design may have been to blame. To better understand your rights and legal options, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss the details of your accident.