Pedestrian deaths continued to rise even when the county’s businesses closed and traffic dropped in 2020 and 2021, according to data released by the safety advocacy group Smart Growth America. It also found that Louisiana was among the 20 states with the highest rate of pedestrian deaths. Baton Rouge was the 11th most dangerous urban area for pedestrians.
In its 2022 report, Smart Growth America reported statistics showing that wrongful death fatalities from pedestrian accidents continue to rise. It estimated that 2021 would be a record year for pedestrian deaths.
In 2020, 6,529 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents. This equaled almost 18 fatalities every day. This was a 4.7% increase from 2019 and an alarming 62% increase from 2009, which was the year pedestrian deaths started to rise after years of improvement. These figures are also disturbing because driving fell during 2020.
Louisiana ranked sixth worst in the country with 668 pedestrian deaths from 2016 through 2020 or 2.86 deaths per 100,000 people. Baton Rouge had 137 pedestrian fatalities from 2016 through 2020 and 3.2 deaths per 100,000 people.
Preliminary data from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association for 2021 indicates this trend continued. According to its estimates, 7,485 pedestrians were killed by vehicles last year. This would be the highest number of fatalities in 40 years and one of the largest single year increases in decades.
Smart Growth America claims that the official federal data used for its report will likely differ than the GHSA estimates. However, it still predicts that is data will show a historic 11-13% increase in these pedestrian deaths from 2020 to 2021.
The report cited numerous causes other than the increase in walking. First, road design in urban areas places a priority on speed over pedestrian safety.
Other design flaws include inadequate crosswalks and traffic signals, too few sidewalks, obstructions on sidewalks and corners that allow fast turns. Roadways in cities need better designs with emphasis on pedestrian safety.
There was also an increase in in speeding and reckless driving beginning in 2020. This caused more severe crashes and a 6.8% increase in all traffic deaths in 2020.
Heavier vehicles, such as trucks and SUVS, are more dangerous to pedestrians and other vehicle occupants. In a 2015 study, the U.S. Department of Transportation found that pedestrians are as much as three times more likely to die in accidents involving an SUV or a pickup truck as compared to accidents involving other passenger cars.
Pedestrian accident victims and their families may be entitled to compensation. Attorneys can help them pursue their claims.