Many Chicago, Illinois residents prefer walking to driving. It’s good exercise and saves money on gas. However, pedestrians are often at risk of accidents. Recently, pedestrian deaths have hit the highest level in 30 years.
Rate of pedestrian deaths
According to data from the Governors Highway Safety Association, pedestrian deaths increased by 53% between 2009 and 2018. However, during that time, other types of traffic-related fatalities decreased by 2%. Between 2017 and 2018, the Association estimated that there were nearly 6,600 pedestrian deaths, which marked a 5% increase within that one-year period.
Why pedestrian deaths have increased
There are various reasons why pedestrian deaths continue to increase. Pedestrian safety advocates claim it’s not due to population growth or jaywalking but a much larger issue: that transportation systems are built with vehicles, not pedestrians, in mind.
Other factors contributing to the rise of pedestrian fatalities include visibility problems and distracted driving. When people are out walking after dark, it can be dangerous if they are not in well-lit areas and not wearing brightly-colored clothing. Drivers could easily fail to see pedestrians in the dark in these situations.
Distracted driving is another major problem causing pedestrian deaths. One of the biggest causes of pedestrian accidents is the use of a smartphone while driving. If a driver glances at their phone even for five seconds, it can have deadly consequences.
Drivers are also choosing larger vehicles year in and year out. More people opt for pickup trucks and SUVs, which can more easily kill a pedestrian in an accident. There is also more likelihood of blindspots being a factor in such accidents with these larger vehicles.
Pedestrians can stay safer by remaining extra cautious when walking outdoors. Always make sure you’re seen. As a rule of thumb, when crossing the street, make eye contact with drivers to ensure that they can see you.