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America's Most Likely People to Be Hit by a Car

Updated: Jul 9

Pedestrian accident fatalities are up dramatically in the United States, and there is an uneven distribution of victims. The risks of pedestrian accidents are disproportionately borne by older Americans and those who live in low-income communities.

Fatalities Are Up Across the Country

In the past decade, the number of pedestrian fatalities has increased by 45%, and the trend shows no sign of slowing. There are a number of reasons behind the increase in fatal pedestrian accidents. The most cited explanations are bigger cars on the road and a rise in drivers distracted by their phones. Even with new laws about distracted driving, the streets are not any safer for pedestrians.

Many pedestrian deaths are preventable. Some responsibility falls on the local government to invest more in pedestrian safety. Better traffic control at crosswalks could help protect pedestrians. Many cities have recognized this as a priority for investment, but they often do not spend the same in all parts of their area.

Not All Neighborhoods Are Equally Dangerous

Pedestrian safety investments lag in lower-income communities. This causes serious racial disparities in pedestrian fatalities. Black pedestrians have a fatality rate that is 82% higher than white pedestrians because of low government investment in their neighborhoods. The fatality rate in low-income neighborhoods was double that in middle-income areas. Another factor is the fact that roads in these neighborhoods are not designed with pedestrian safety in mind. Finally, police often do not enforce traffic laws in low-income neighborhoods with the residents' safety in mind.

In addition, older adults are killed in pedestrian crashes at much higher rates. It takes longer for them to cross the streets, and many drivers do not take the appropriate care to allow them enough time. Drivers also fail to stop at crosswalks or misjudge the time that it takes older people to cross the street. This is where aggressive and distracted driving comes into play. Drivers should take extra care when they are in an area with more pedestrian traffic, but they are often in a hurry or not looking. Families whose loved one has been killed or injured by a careless driver in Illinois may be able to recover compensation for their losses by filing a personal injury claim or wrongful death lawsuit.

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