It is human nature that if we consider it at all, we tend to think only about ourselves when it comes to highway safety, primarily the chances of us or our loved ones being killed or seriously injured in a car crash. But pedestrians represent about one in six of all people killed on America’s roads and we are all pedestrians at times.
While it is clear that crosswalks must be suitably designed for disabled users, it is equally essential that drivers are always prepared to make it safe for such individuals to cross. Unfortunately, however, far too many drivers are oblivious to the things that require their attention.
A study in the USA found that the fatality rate for people using wheelchairs when crossing roads is 36% higher than for regular pedestrians.
Excerpt: “…Pedestrian deaths have jumped 46 percent since reaching their lowest point in 2009, as pedestrian crashes have become both deadlier and more frequent. The increase has been mostly in urban or suburban areas, at non-intersections, on arterials — busy roads designed mainly to funnel vehicle traffic toward freeways — and in the dark, a new IIHS study shows. Crashes were increasingly likely to involve SUVs and high-horsepower vehicles…
Often bought in the name of safety, it is a fact that crash bars or bull bars can actually create greater danger not only for pedestrians, bicyclists and other vulnerable road users who get hit, but also for people traveling in the vehicles to which the bars are fitted.
Kent County, MI, reported 790 crashes involving pedestrians between 2012 and 2015, and more than half of these occurred in Grand Rapids.
It is a very saddening fact that pedestrian safety on roads and highways in the USA is well below the standard it should be, and far too many people are killed as a result.
The following was published by NHTSA on Facebook on 7 September, 2017:
Vulnerable Road Users [VRU] include pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists. Among these, pedestrians are certainly in very serious danger in California.
“Just 10 years ago, 17 percent of California’s roadside [sic] fatalities involved pedestrians. That number has since grown to 25 percent…. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, preliminary results show a record-high 900 people died [in 2016] across the Golden State – an increase [of more than five percent] from 852 in 2015.“
Many experts consider that the use of smartphones, etc., both by drivers and other road users is a major factor in such elevated numbers of road deaths.
The latest “THINK!” advert gives a small but important insight into the proper use of observations when driving.
Far too many drivers simply gaze ahead of their vehicle while driving without actually noticing everything they should and being alert to all the things that potentially could go wrong. Worse than that, many drivers literally do just gaze at the back of the vehicle they are following, reliant on the brake lights of that lead vehicle to trigger a response in themselves. But either way, drivers who do these things are throwing away a lot of safety.
We saw this earlier today, in Latham (Albany), NY, and the question is “can there be any worse example of thoughtless driving than completely blocking a crosswalk at a red light?”