Authorities in Fayetteville are investigating the sudden death of an elderly pedestrian and the serious injury to his wife as they attempted to cross the street after sharing a meal at a local restaurant.
The pair, visiting from Pennsylvania, were trying to cross a four-lane road while returning to a nearby hotel where they were staying. City officials have called that stretch of road one of the deadliest for pedestrians, with many travelers attempting to cross on foot back-and-forth between nearby hotels and restaurants located off the highway. A crosswalk was installed, yet the road is poorly lit and the speed limit remains 55 miles-per-hour.
Charlotte car accident attorneys understand that a recent report by the Governors’ Highway Safety Association indicates that while pedestrian accidents saw an overall downward shift nationally for the first time in years, it increased yet again in North Carolina.
In all of 2012, there were 197 pedestrian deaths in North Carolina, accounting for 15 percent of all traffic fatalities in the state. In the first six months of that year, there were 74 pedestrian deaths. According to preliminary figures obtained for the first six months of 2013, there were 79 pedestrian deaths, representing an increase of nearly 7 percent.
Meanwhile, national figures reveal an 8.7 percent decrease in pedestrian deaths, from 2,175 in the first six months of 2012 to 1,985 in the first six months of 2013.
This is still far too high, of course, but it means that other states are making strides in terms of pedestrian safety – and there is no reason we shouldn’t be doing the same.
Nationally, pedestrian deaths had been on a sharp incline since 2010, indicating a 5 percent increase that year, a 4 percent increase the next and a 6 percent increase the year after that. This was true even when motor vehicle fatalities on the whole were declining.
The GHSA conducted the pedestrian fatality study in anticipation of another incline. Of course, it’s too early to say what the end-of-year figures could bring, but officials are hopeful the trend may have finally been reversed.
Still, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that those over the age of 70 remain at especially high risk for this type of injury, and have always maintained the highest per capita death rate among total pedestrians.
While there has been some suggestion in the media indicating that the uptick in overall pedestrian deaths had to do with distracted walking, especially as smart phones have become increasingly popular. However, new research indicates that theory is overblown. One study conducted last year by researchers at The Ohio State University indicated that the percentage of pedestrian injuries attributed to people using their phones while walking was only 3.7 percent. Officials in Georgia and a few other states have even be careful to caution the media against overemphasis on distraction on the part of pedestrians as a contributing factor, indicating that it was minute compared to issues of speeding, red light running and illegal turns.
Researchers say if we are truly interested in seeing a reduction of pedestrian deaths, it’s important to reduce speed limits, install curb extensions, refuge islands and medians and install traffic signals that give pedestrians more time to cross the street.
Contact the Charlotte car accident lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Elderly man killed, wife injured in Fayetteville, Feb. 28, 2014, Staff Report, ABC-11
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Springtime Brings Increased Outdoor Activity and Accidents for Seniors, March 14, 2014, Charlotte Car Accident Lawyer Blog