The traffic data from last year is starting to come in, and it’s not looking good. Based on preliminary numbers, pedestrian deaths rose in 2021.
This isn’t a new trend. Even in 2020, when many people were working at home – or not working at all – and schools, as well as many businesses, were closed, pedestrian fatalities at the hands of drivers rose by 5% over 2019. When you consider that Americans drove far less in 2020, the pedestrian fatality rate per mile driven rose considerably more than that.
The phenomenon of “social disengagement”
Researchers who study traffic and crash trends point to a rise in reckless driving as a key culprit in pedestrian deaths. But what accounts for the rise in reckless driving? One doctor who studies stress and health blames “social disengagement” – something that many people experienced over the past couple of years.
He notes that people who spent less time working and socializing with others were more likely to become angry and anxious behind the wheel. Increased consumption of alcohol certainly didn’t help.
Another factor in the rise in pedestrian fatalities is the type of vehicles many Americans are driving. Pick-up trucks are much heavier and larger than in the past. Many are built in such a way that it’s hard for the driver to see pedestrians right in front of them.
Larger, heavier, faster and more autonomous vehicles
It’s not just larger pick-up trucks. SUVs are getting bigger and heavier as well. Some cars can go at speeds well above anything that’s safe on streets or even interstates. Although newer vehicles are loaded with safety features, these can even lead to reckless driving because drivers often come to rely on their car to tell them if there’s a potential hazard nearby or if they’re wandering out of their lane. As cars become equipped with more autonomous features, it doesn’t help that some car ads show celebrities and others taking their hands off the steering wheel or letting the car park itself.
Of course, none of these things is an excuse for a driver to strike a pedestrian. If you or a loved one was injured or worse, it’s crucial that you seek the justice and compensation you deserve. Don’t settle for any less than what your claim is worth.