According to the “Spotlight on Highway Safety” published by the Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA), pedestrian fatalities have dramatically increased. From 2009-2014, deaths in the U.S. went up 19%. During the same period, total traffic fatalities only increased 4%. The trend is continuing.
GHSA estimates that pedestrian deaths will increase an additional 10% in 2015 from 2014. The report identifies numerous factors that may be causing the troubling increase. One possible factor is cell phone use. Distracted walking can be as dangerous as distracted driving. Alcohol use is another.
In a surprising note, the report indicates that 34% of pedestrians involved in fatal crashes had blood alcohol levels (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. That is high compared to the fact that 15% of drivers involved in such crashes had a BAC of 0.08 or more.
Wisconsin ranked in the lowest 10 states for pedestrian fatality rate per capita. However, Wisconsin is not immune from the disturbing trend. In fact, pedestrian deaths in WI increased 47% in the first 6 months of 2015 as compared to the same period in 2014. That was the 8 the highest increase in the entire U.S.
As with other states, WI is taking action to improve this senseless loss of life. WI funded the “Share and Be Aware” program to educate roadway users, is implementing training classes for law enforcement, is training planners and engineers in pedestrian safety, and has begun high-visibility enforcement projects in 3 cities. WI law enforcement has also begun enforcing distracted driving laws.
For example, a driver was recently convicted of negligent homicide in Fond du Lac, WI. The driver had been sending and receiving texts just moments before rear ending another vehicle at 70 mph and causing the wrongful death of the other occupant. The defendant driver is set to be sentenced on June 24, 2016, and she faces 10 years in prison.
This is an important safety issues for all residents of the state of WI. Despite best efforts, any of us could become the victim of a distracted or impaired driver. Such cases require the assistance of an experienced car crash and personal injury attorney. There are potential issues with payment of medical bills, insurance coverage, and the right to pursue punitive damages. At Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC, we have the experience and knowledge to handle such insurance claims. If you or a loved one have been injured by a distracted driver, call Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC or go to our website for more information.