Charleston County authorities are investigating a pedestrian accident that took the life of a 34-year-old South Carolina woman on April 12. A Chevrolet Blazer reportedly hit the woman as she was walking along Highway 162. The driver was trying to pass another vehicle at the time according to Live 5 News; however, the specific cause of the deadly collision is still under investigation.
Unfortunately, the death of this young woman adds to the rising pedestrian death rate that has been occurring nationwide. Between 2009 and 2012, the number of pedestrians dying in collisions has increased each year. The Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) indicated that there was a 15 percent increase in fatalities nationwide during this time period, even as there was a 3 percent decrease in all other types of motor vehicle fatalities.
Improving Pedestrian Safety
Safety experts have no clear explanation for the dramatic increase in pedestrian deaths that occurred over the past several years. Possible reasons include a rise in distracted walking and distracted driving, as well as the economic recession which forced more people to commute on foot rather than in vehicles.
Without a definitive reason why so many pedestrians are dying, lawmakers are still trying to take action and improve conditions for walkers. A bill called the Safe Streets Act of 2014 has been introduced that would require all local government authorities to adopt Complete Streets Principles for most federally funded road projects.
Complete Streets Principles are actually very simple: they require that the needs of every user of the road be considered at all stages of roadwork projects. This means when roads are designed and built, municipalities, state governments and other planning authorities would need to consider the needs of walkers, bicycle riders, children, trucks, motorcycle riders and cars.
Many jurisdictions are already voluntarily making use of Complete Streets Principles because of the significant safety benefits. In fact, as of a 2012 report, 238 different jurisdictions nationwide had adopted this approach to completing road projects.
If the Safe Streets Act of 2014 passes, the new law could go a long way toward making things safer for walkers and could help to eliminate accidents like the tragic collision that took the life of the South Carolina woman.
Something positive and proactive needs to be done to bring down the death rate. While 2013 was the first year that a slight decline in pedestrian deaths occurred, this decline can largely be explained by the improving economy, which means fewer people walking. This is the wrong way to bring down the death toll, since walking has many health benefits and should be encouraged.
Pedestrians who are injured or killed by drivers who don’t share the road safely may consider pursuing a claim for compensation for accident losses. A personal injury attorney can provide a free consultation to family members of victims killed in collisions so they can understand their rights and get help pursuing a damage claim from an at-fault party.