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Report: Pedestrian Deaths in U.S. Reach a 40-Year High

pedestrian in front of a car on a city street

According to a new estimate from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), 7,485 pedestrians were struck and killed by drivers across the country in 2021. That’s an average of 20 deaths a day and the highest number of pedestrian fatalities in a single year in four decades.

The number of deaths in pedestrian accidents was more than an 11% increase from 2020, which saw 6,711 deaths.

“This is heartbreaking and unacceptable,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. “We must address the root causes of the pedestrian safety crisis – speeding and other dangerous driving behaviors, inadequate infrastructure, and roads designed for vehicle speed instead of safety – to reverse this trend and ensure people can walk safely.”

Illinois Also Sees Increase in Fatalities

The GHSA is a nonprofit organization that represents the highway safety offices of U.S. states, as well as territories, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Illinois had 228 pedestrian deaths in 2021, up from 175 the year before – an increase of 30.3%.

The GHSA report also reviewed 2020 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System. It found:

  • Pedestrians accounted for 17% of all traffic deaths that year.
  • More than 76% of pedestrian deaths with a known lighting condition were at night.
  • 40% of fatalities involved a passenger car, while about 20% involved an SUV.
  • 67% of fatalities occurred in areas where there was no sidewalk noted in the crash report.
  • The percentage of pedestrian fatalities involving speeding rose to 8.6%, from 7.2% the year before.
  • The percentage of speeding-related pedestrian fatalities among children younger than 15 more than doubled, from 5.8% in 2018 to 11.9% in 2020.
  • In Chicago, pedestrian fatalities have trended upward since 2018, from 47 in 2018 to 54 in 2020.

The GHSA plans to bring national and state leaders together in Louisville, Kentucky, in September to discuss the implementation of the Safe System Approach adopted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to reduce road deaths and injuries. The objectives are to encourage responsible behavior by road users, design safer roads, expand the use of vehicle systems and features to help prevent crashes, promote safer speeds, and enhance access to emergency care.

An experienced attorney can fight for compensation

Pedestrians are vulnerable on sidewalks and streets. They can suffer serious and fatal injuries in a crash as they have no protection against motor vehicles. It only takes one negligent driver – one who was speeding, driving recklessly, or texting behind the wheel – to cause an accident that changes someone’s life in seconds.

But negligent drivers often deny doing anything wrong and refuse to accept responsibility for what happened. Insurance companies use many different tactics to try to limit compensation. They may question the seriousness of injuries or argue the pedestrian was somehow at fault.

At Keating Law Offices, P.C., our experienced pedestrian accident attorneys know the impact that injuries can have on victims and their families. That’s why we are dedicated to building strong cases that hold negligent drivers accountable. We fight back against insurance companies to help our clients recover the compensation they deserve.

If you or a loved one was hurt in a Chicago pedestrian accident, we can help. Contact Keating Law today at 833-CALL-KLO for a free consultation.

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