Pedestrian Fatalities Highest Since 1990

pedestrians in streetMotor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians have been on a sharp rise over the past decade throughout the country. In fact, pedestrian fatalities have increased 35% since 2008, compared to a 6% decrease in all other motor vehicle crashes in the same period. A recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association estimates 6,227 pedestrians were killed on U.S. roads in 2018.  Based on preliminary 2018 data, this is the highest number of pedestrian deaths due to car accidents since 1990. Why are pedestrians in Rhode Island and the U.S. at such a high risk for getting killed by a car?  Automobiles are safer than ever with the latest technology and innovative safety features including sensors that tell a driver when a person or another vehicle is too close. Rear backup cameras in particular are mandatory for vehicles manufactured after May 2018. As RI personal injury lawyers, we certainly recognize the importance of these safety features however we know no amount of technology can make up for one of the most dangerous types of drivers, a driver distracted at the wheel.

Causes of the Rise in Pedestrian Accidents

One of the main sources of pedestrian injuries and accidents in Rhode Island, and the entire country, is distracted driving.  Distracted driving, commonly taking the form of texting and overall smartphone use while operating a vehicle, might also include the distractions of other passengers in the car, loud music, eating or drinking. A rise in population growth, specifically in cities, is another reason for the uptick in pedestrian injuries and accidents. Cities like Providence RI are a hotbed for pedestrian activity. With multiple colleges and universities throughout the city, on any given day thousands of people are walking the streets. What makes pedestrians more likely to be hurt in a car accident in Providence, is that many of the thousands of college students are new to the city and therefore not familiar with the city’s roads and infrastructure. As personal injury lawyers in Providence RI, at Tapalian Law we have seen a number of clients hurt in car accidents caused by out of state drivers. Inexperienced pedestrians and inexperienced drivers are a dangerous mix.  Other factors attributed to the rise in pedestrian fatalities include weather conditions, fuel costs, and the upsurge of SUV’s on the roads.

Should Pedestrians Share Some of the Blame?

When a person is hit by a car, typically people point to the driver of the car or SUV as the cause of the auto accident. When it comes to pedestrian accidents, should pedestrians bear some blame?  That depends. Time and again while navigating the streets of Providence, people young and old are looking down at their smart phones while walking. Some pedestrians are not only looking at their smart phones while walking, but even have headphones on as well. Everyone today is distracted for any number of reasons but both pedestrians and motor vehicle operators need to take responsibility. The majority of car accidents involving pedestrians take place on local roads and since people feel comfortable with their familiar surroundings, they may be less aware and less likely to pay attention. The combination of distracted driving and distracted walking are a big cause of pedestrian and car collisions throughout the state of Rhode Island.

Reducing Pedestrian Deaths

Many states, including Rhode Island and Massachusetts, have laws governing cell phone use and/or texting while driving. Despite the laws, as Rhode Island personal injury attorneys we see people hurt every day in auto accidents caused by texting and driving.  A recent case in NJ relied on texting while driving in order to establish recklessness when a 50-year old woman was convicted of second-degree vehicular homicide due in part by evidence of texting while driving. This woman could face up to 10 years in prison in her texting while driving fatality conviction. Will harsh sentences and stronger laws alter human behavior?  In addition to enforcement approaches, the GHSA recommends various strategies to combat pedestrians getting killed by automobiles, including infrastructure/engineering changes, education, and public outreach.

Were You Injured in a Car Accident in RI?

If you were injured due to a car accident as a pedestrian, or as the driver or occupant of another vehicle, it is essential you have competent legal representation. You may be entitled to significant compensatory damages for your resulting injuries. As a personal injury attorney in Providence, Rhode Island, David Tapalian’s 20 years of experience can be put to work for you. Compensatory damages that a personal injury lawyer can obtain for you may include, but are not limited to:

  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • lost income
  • medical expenses
  • pain-and-suffering
  • disability
  • future lost earning potential
  • future impairment

For a free consultation, contact the RI personal injury team at Tapalian Law. Attorney David Tapalian will personally meet with you to discuss the details of your injuries, gather necessary information including police reports and medical records, and recommend the best plan of action to move forward. Call Tapalian Law’s Providence office today at


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