The National HighwaysTraffic Safety Association (“NHTSA”) released its’ data last month on 2020 traffic deaths. US roads saw the largest increase on record in deaths per mile traveled in 2020, including a 26% increase in hit-and-run fatalities that outpaced the increase in overall deaths.
Hit-and-run deaths have grown steadily in the last 15 years as a share of traffic deaths. Victims of hit-and-runs are also increasingly pedestrians and cyclists. In 2020, 69.6% of hit-and-run deaths were either pedestrians or cyclists, compared with 61.1% in 2006. Roughly one in four pedestrian deaths in 2020 was a hit-and-run.
Early analysis shows that pedestrian deaths did not decline in 2021, indicating that 2020 wasn’t a fluke. Overall traffic deaths per mile in the first nine months of 2021 increased marginally from 2020.
The NHTSA and other traffic experts could not provide the reasoning behind the gradual increase, but there were some suggestions as to the problem. Some believe that the decline in public transportation ridership in 2020 could have led to the increase in pedestrian deaths and hit and runs. Others have pointed out that alcohol and impaired driving fatalities grew 14% in 2020, outpacing the 7.2% increase in overall traffic deaths when compared with 2019.
What is the plan going forward and what can the government do to help curb the increase in pedestrian traffic deaths? The NHTSA plans to propose changes to the new car assessment program that may emphasize safety features that protect people both inside and outside vehicles. In 2020, 34% of traffic deaths occurred outside vehicles, a rate that’s increased steadily since hitting a low of 20% in 1997. The agency has also said it’ll develop rules for requiring automatic emergency braking for pedestrians on new passenger vehicles, but not heavy trucks.
The Department of Transportation plans to feature a “safe system” approach, which emphasizes the responsibility of all actors in a system, including roadway engineers. US road design has long prioritized moving vehicles at high speeds rather than protecting all road users.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in Chicago pedestrian accident or a Chicago truck accident, then call the Chicago personal injury lawyers at the Bryant Law Group, LLC. for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.