Pedestrians in America are being killed in accidents with motor vehicles at an alarming rate. According to a 2020 report from the Governors Highway Safety Association, more than 6,500 were killed in 2019 alone — and that’s the largest number of pedestrian deaths in over 30 years.

In general, pedestrian deaths have risen 50% over the last decade. In 2019, they accounted for 17% of all traffic-related fatalities, while back in 2009 they only accounted for 12%. Despite all of the efforts put toward educating the public on pedestrian safety, we’re still getting worse, not better.

Why? A multitude of factors probably contribute to the trend, including:

  • More vehicles are on the road than ever before. Until recently, the economy has been strong. That means more people were working — and most of them commute.
  • Gas prices have been under control. That means that people are willing to make more frequent trips and go more places, which increases the amount of traffic on the road.
  • People are using cellphones a lot more often. It’s no coincidence that smartphones became popular at the same time pedestrian deaths started rising. Both pedestrians and drivers are letting themselves get distracted by their phones while they’re in motion.
  • Walking is more popular than ever. In an increasingly sedentary and polluted world, people are walking for the health and environmental benefits it provides. Unfortunately, that’s putting a lot more people out there on streets that were designed for cars and speed, not foot traffic.
  • Vehicles are getting bigger. Sports utility vehicles and pickup trucks are heavily favored by Americans these days — and heavier vehicles are more deadly than cars when they hit a defenseless pedestrian.

Almost everybody spends part of their day as a pedestrian, so it pays to understand the risks around you. If you are hurt in a pedestrian accident, make sure that you obtain the appropriate medical treatment right away. Once you begin to recover, an attorney can help you understand what compensation you may be due from the driver that struck you.