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On behalf of The Law Office of David Hunt LTD Nov. 14, 2019

Driving a car is not the only way to get around. Walking and biking are also popular choices in Illinois, sometimes by choice and other times out of necessity. Unfortunately, the number of pedestrians who are dying in car accidents is on the rise. So, what is behind the increase in fatal pedestrian accidents?

Safety experts have several hypotheses about what is going on. Some think that there are more pedestrians today than in the past. Others think that pedestrians are traveling more at night, especially since the biggest increase in pedestrian deaths are those happening at night. Here are a few things to consider when looking at pedestrian safety.

Thousands of Pedestrians Are Dying

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle drivers killed 6,482 pedestrians in 2018, a 3.4% increase from 2017. Cyclist fatalities also went up in 2018, with 859 dying that year. This was 6.3% higher than 2017. The fatality rates for these two groups have been rising steadily over the past decade, and 2018 was the deadliest year since 1990.

However, there is one group that is actually getting safer — drivers. The number of people dying in accidents involving cars, SUVs, vans and motorcycles dropped 2.4% from 2017 to 2018. Car manufacturers outfit most newer vehicles with a wide range of safety features, including things like crash avoidance technology and improved designs that protect occupants. These safety features are not always effective and rarely protect pedestrians.

Why Are More People Dying at Night?

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, from 2007 to 2017, 90% of the rising fatal pedestrian accidents happened at night. One possible reason for the increase could be that more people are working during night hours, so they have to walk or bike home in the dark. Data collected in the General Social Survey could support this idea, since it shows that there are 2% more people working at night in 2019 than there were in 2010.

Poor vehicle design is also a problem, especially when it comes to SUVs and pickup trucks with high front ends. Road designs are not helping anyone either. The design of most roads still prioritizes vehicles far above pedestrians, and those designs often miss things like crosswalks, sidewalks and lighting. Higher speed limits also make environments more dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Night Driving Is Also a Problem

The average Illinois consumer understands how important it is to act responsibly behind the wheel, so a vehicle’s advertised safety features could be a huge selling point. What people may not realize is that manufacturers exaggerate how effective those features actually are. Most safety systems — including those meant to alert drivers to possible collisions — do not function well at all when in dark lighting. Since drivers may be more likely to act recklessly at night, relying on safety systems will not protect pedestrians.

You probably never imagined that you would lose a loved one so suddenly, but this is your family’s devastating reality. Maybe you have not been able to grieve because of the financial aspect of this situation, like finding the money for unexpected funeral expenses. Even though families may feel alone when going through this, it is actually not uncommon when dealing with fatal pedestrian accidents. Facing those financial damages can be easier for families who successfully navigate wrongful death claims, which is usually easier when working with a knowledgeable attorney.