New Jersey pedestrians deserve better safety

Smart Growth America's recently released report named Dangerous by Design 2014 provides a detailed view of the risk to pedestrians in the United States. The organization recounts the staggering number of deaths from pedestrian accidents around the nation as well as the types of streets on which most such collisions occur. Some specific details include:

• Deaths from natural disasters in the country amounted to 16 times fewer than deaths from pedestrian accidents between 2003 and 2012.
• In that 10-year span, over 47,000 pedestrians lost their lives on U.S. roads.
• In 2012, 15 percent of the country's traffic fatalities were pedestrians.
• The 2012 pedestrian fatality rate was six percent higher than the rate in 2011.

More than half of all pedestrian collisions take place on arterials and more than 60 percent take place on roads with speed limits of 40 miles per hour or greater.

The story in New Jersey
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there was more than twice the number of wrongful deaths from pedestrian accidents than motorcycle accidents in New Jersey in 2012. Pedestrian fatalities comprised over 26 percent of the state's total automobile deaths that year. In Ocean County, that rate was nearly 19 percent. Only Essex, Middlesex and Burlington Counties had more pedestrian deaths than Ocean County.

Headlines abound
A quick search is all that is needed to find headlines recounting recent pedestrian accidents. These include the recent death of a man hit by a 27-year old driver in Roxbury Township. The pedestrian died at the scene of the accident and the driver now faces a charge of death by auto.

Another recent incident claimed the life of one pedestrian and injured another when a 23-year old man drove his car up on a sidewalk, striking both pedestrians. That driver faces charges related to the death as well as to drugs.

Safety tips for pedestrians
While there may be no way to eliminate the risk of being involved in an accident, pedestrians can help to reduce their chances. Always being aware of surroundings and being able to hear cars is important. Headphone volume should be kept down to allow this. Wearing brightly colored clothing or reflective items can improve visibility to motorists.

Pedestrians should also be sure to follow all traffic laws and signals. If no sidewalk is present, it is often best to walk against the flow of traffic as both pedestrians and drivers can see each other better.

Be ready to take action
When an accident does happen, it is important for victims or their family members to take action immediately. The vulnerability of pedestrians should not be an excuse for the actions of careless drivers. Compensation is available for people injured at the expense of others and working with a lawyer can help to receive the needed amount.

 

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