Pedestrian Accidents on the Rise Nationwide
Omaha pedestrian accident attorney discusses disturbing trend
Pedestrian fatalities nationwide increased sharply last year to nearly 6,000 fatalities, a 26-year record high, according to statistics recently released by the federal government. And while there were fewer pedestrian fatalities last year in Nebraska, the five-year average for the state has increased 86 percent compared to the previous five years.
"This is a disturbing trend that needs to start moving in the other direction," said Omaha pedestrian accident lawyer Jason J. Ausman of Ausman Law Firm, P.C., L.L.O. "Just because the number of pedestrian fatalities in Nebraska decreased last year does not mean we can get complacent. More needs to be done to prevent such tragic accidents from happening in the first place."
An estimated 5,997 pedestrians were killed last year nationwide, an increase of 621 people or 11 percent compared to 5,376 fatalities in 2015 nationwide, according to statistics compiled by the Governors Highway Safety Association. The 5,997 figure is the highest number of pedestrian fatalities since 1990, when 6,482 pedestrians were killed in accidents nationwide, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Pedestrian accidents in Nebraska
In Nebraska, 12 people were killed in pedestrian accidents last year, according to a recent article published by the Omaha World-Herald. That figure represents a decrease compared to 2015, when 19 pedestrians were killed in accidents in Nebraska, according to statistics compiled by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
But while 2016 represented a decrease compared to the previous year, the broader trend shows that Nebraska has been getting more dangerous for pedestrians. Those 19 fatalities in 2015 were the highest figure in decades. And the total number of pedestrian fatalities for the last five years (2012 to 2016), is 86 percent higher compared to the previous five years (2007 to 2011), according to the data.
Pedestrian injuries in Nebraska have increased as well. One person every day on average sustains a serious injury in a pedestrian accident in Nebraska, according to the Omaha World-Herald's article.
Reason for rise in pedestrian accidents
Officials cited several factors for the sharp increase in the number of pedestrian fatalities. Speeding drivers and failure to yield remain the top two causes of pedestrian accidents, according to a news report about the increase aired by NPR. But the real cause driving such figures higher, officials said, was distracted driving, especially due to cellphones and other electronic devices.
Other factors also appear to be contributing to the dramatic increase in pedestrian fatalities nationwide. In particular, officials cited pedestrian distraction and impaired pedestrians. An estimated 34 percent of pedestrians were legally drunk (blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher) at the time of their fatal pedestrian accident, according to an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety analysis of such statistics released in April.
"Pedestrians and motorists need a wake-up call," attorney Ausman said. "Everyone needs to be safe on the road, especially drivers. One small mistake by a distracted driver could cost a pedestrian their life. Pedestrian safety needs to be priority for everyone at all times."