In 2010, Washington launched Target Zero, a plan that aims to have zero traffic fatalities by 2030. Yet, recent data show that pedestrian fatalities are on the rise.
The recent statistics about pedestrian fatalities in Washington are sobering. Take a look at these findings from the Annual Safety Report (WSDOT):
Washington ranks 34th in the country for traffic fatalities. However, the increase in fatalities and serious injuries is cause for concern.
There are situations where collisions with pedestrians become more likely and more deadly. In other words, certain factors increase risks for pedestrians. Some of these include:
Distracted driving is the main contributing factor in 32% of pedestrian fatalities. In a collision, a distracted driver is more likely to kill a pedestrian than a drunk one. (We recently shared that distracted driving is the main cause of boating accidents.)
We all know that drinking and driving is dangerous. But it’s also dangerous to cross the street while drunk. Intoxicated pedestrians make up 44% of fatalities.
Lack of infrastructure.
Many urban and low-income areas lack sidewalks, crosswalks, and mixed-use paths. Over half of all pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries happen when people cross streets without crosswalks.
Most deaths and injuries occur on roads with posted speed limits of 30 mph or more. The greater the speed of the car, the greater the injury – or possibility of death.
Not surprisingly, most of these accidents happen in fall and winter months, and during dark/dusk hours.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is working to improve pedestrian safety.
First, WSDOT is conducting a number of research studies. For instance, the University of Washington is currently working on a Pedestrian Risk assessment. The study is looking at collisions at both intersections and non-intersections. By identifying hotspots, WSDOT can make needed traffic changes.
Additionally, the State of Washington pledged $41 million to make safety improvements for pedestrians. Priority for the grant money is given to applications in low-income areas, where infrastructure is often lacking. These programs can make a real difference in their communities. For example, WSDOT evaluated results of projects completed between 2005 and 2015. They discovered a 43% decrease in walking- and biking-related crashes at projects sites.
Finally, Washington is creating new laws that focus on pedestrian safety. In the 2019 legislative session, two new Senate Bills were passed focused on pedestrian safety.
Whether driving or walking, there are a few things we can do to make our roads safer for everyone. For instance, we can:
It’s clear Washington is not on track to achieve it’s Target Zero goal. The good news is that measures are being put in place to change this situation. And, if we as drivers and pedestrians can do our part to share the roadways, we may help this even further.
Have you been a victim in a car accident? Maybe you were a pedestrian injured by a distracted driver? If so, we’d love to talk to you. Please call the Ladenburg Law Injury Attorneys. We’ll provide you with a free consultation about your case.
Sources for this article:
Washington’s roads are becoming increasingly deadly for people who walk or bike, data show (The News Tribune, June 4, 2019)