Numerous factors affect pedestrian death rate

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Pedestrian fatalities outnumber deaths from natural disasters by a margin of about 16 to one, according to a report from the National Complete Streets Coalition. Although Connecticut is fortunately not listed in the NCSC's ranking of the five worst states for pedestrian fatalities, accidents involving pedestrians and motor vehicles still do occur in Connecticut on a regular basis.

In 2012, for example, federal crash data indicates that a total of 36 people died as a result of pedestrian crashes in Connecticut - about 15 percent of the state's overall traffic fatalities that year. Many more pedestrians suffered non-fatal injuries, some resulting in permanent disabilities.

Factors affecting pedestrian crash trends

Despite improvements in other aspects of traffic safety, pedestrian deaths have been increasing over the past several years. Some experts believe that this may be the result of economic factors such as the Great Recession and the steep price of gasoline, which have likely contributed to a greater reliance on walking as a means of transportation. Societal factors such as the increased emphasis on walking and biking for health and environmental reasons may also have increased the number of pedestrians and cyclists on the road during the years in question.

Distraction is another factor that may play a role in the changing trends with regard to pedestrian accidents and traffic collisions in general. The Washington Post recently ran an article highlighting the hazards of "distracted walking," which some believe may play a role in the recent uptick in pedestrian deaths.

Indeed, anecdotal evidence and a handful of scientific studies suggest that the number of pedestrians injured while on their cellphones may be increasing. A study published in the journal Injury Prevention in 2012 found that texting pedestrians took 18 percent longer to cross an intersection than those who were not, and were four times more likely to take risks such as ignoring traffic signals or failing to look for cars.

Distracted driving remains a serious safety issue

However, while distracted walking can certainly increase the risk of pedestrian traffic accidents, the scope of the issue pales in comparison to the dangers posed by distracted driving. During daylight hours in the United States, there are an estimated 660,000 drivers on their phones at all times, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2012 alone, distracted driving contributed to 3,328 deaths and approximately 421,000 injuries.

Whether rooted in distraction or other forms of negligent driving, federal crash data shows that about half of all pedestrian accidents are caused by drivers who make illegal turns, run red lights or fail to yield the right of way in crosswalks. Pedestrians who are hurt in traffic accidents in Connecticut are often able to recover monetary compensation for their injuries and related expenses, including lost income and medical bills. Talk to a personal injury lawyer in your area to learn more if you or a family member has been hurt in a crash.