Tragically, pedestrian deaths in Illinois are on the rise. Common sense, however, tells us that this should not be happening. Our attorneys reveal everything you need to know about this troubling trend.
A Pandemic of Pedestrian Deaths
During the first six months of 2020, the country was suffering from the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of people were working from home, had lost their jobs, or were under quarantine. As a result, far fewer motorists were on the road, which should have translated into fewer pedestrian deaths.
But that is not what happened. Even with less traffic, the Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) report titled “Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State” recorded 2,957 pedestrian fatalities nationwide for the first six months of 2020, almost exactly matching the 2,921 fatalities for the same time period in 2019.
In Illinois, fatalities rose from 70 in 2019 to 75 in 2020, an increase of 7%. Nationally, by comparison, the numbers were up by just .02%. In addition, Chicago is among five major cities where numbers are trending up, joining Dallas, New York, San Antonio, and San Jose.
Overall, the state’s numbers reflect a disturbing national trend extending over the past decade. From 2010 to 2019, pedestrian fatalities went from 13% to 17% of total traffic deaths.
Pedestrian Safety on the Roadway
Motorists have a responsibility to always operate their vehicles safely and to maintain a heightened sense of awareness for other vulnerable users of the roadway, such as pedestrians. Roadway infrastructure such as sidewalks, clearly marked crosswalks, and signage are engineered to protect pedestrians by alerting motorists to their presence.
Illinois goes a step further by mandating drivers to stop for pedestrians that are in a crosswalk. Section 5/11-1002(e) of the Illinois Vehicle Code states in pertinent part: “whenever stop signs or flashing red signals are in place at an intersection or at a plainly marked crosswalk between intersections, drivers shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians.” 625 ILCS 5/11-1002(e).
All Illinois drivers are also charged with the duty to “exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian.” 625 ILCS 5/11-1003.1.
Despite these protections in place, pedestrians continue to fall victim to negligent motorists who fail to stop at crosswalks when someone is crossing the street or pay attention to other legal users of the roadway.
Addressing the Issue of Pedestrian Deaths
Unfortunately, as the report notes, many factors that contribute to pedestrian accidents are beyond the control of safety officials.
These include the economy, population growth, demographic changes, the weather, fuel prices, vehicle miles traveled, the time people spend walking, and the resources available to support pedestrian safety programs.
Fortunately, the report also notes officials can emphasize the Five E’s:
- Enforcement. Police should crack down on driving violations, targeting speeders, motorists who run red lights, those who ignore pedestrian signals and school zone caution signs, and those who drive while impaired.
- Engineering. Includes the installation of more roundabouts, pedestrian islands, speed bumps, and better lighting and pedestrian signals. Regular maintenance, such as trimming trees that block sightlines and restriping faded crosswalks, also are important.
- Emergency Medical Response. Lawmakers must address gaps in the quality of coverage for rural and underserved areas.
- Education. Programs should include safety instruction, especially for younger children, as well as examining and updating local traffic laws, and seeking community input on additional safety measures.
- Equity. Making sure infrastructure is designed with greater emphasis on pedestrian safety rather than motorist convenience.
Seeking Justice After a Pedestrian Death
The risk of pedestrian deaths is high in any collision because victims have no protection when they get hit by a car. Adding to a family’s grief, an at-fault driver is rarely going to admit responsibility for a severe injury or fatality and will likely try to blame the victim.
Unless witnesses come forward or police develop overwhelming evidence against the driver, you will likely face a major legal struggle trying to hold the responsible driver accountable.
During this time, the insurance company may try to take advantage of you. They'll do this by pressuring you to accept a settlement that later proves far too small to cover your expenses, let alone compensate you for other applicable damages, such as pain and suffering.
The pedestrian accident attorneys at Keating Law Offices have been assisting families like yours in Chicago and its suburbs for 13 years. Our dedicated legal team can launch an investigation into your accident, find the facts that matter to your case, and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Our attorneys will aggressively advocate for your best interests in negotiations and, if necessary, in court. Contact us today for a free case consultation. Our office is located in Chicago and we serve clients throughout Illinois.