North Carolina Pedestrian Fatalities
While the number of fatal traffic accidents in the U.S. has fallen drastically over the past four decades, not all fatal accidents have decreased at the same rate including pedestrian deaths. In fact, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 15 percent of all traffic deaths are pedestrians.
In North Carolina on the other hand, fatal traffic deaths increased from 1,284 in 2014 to 1,379 in 2015, marking that year with the highest crash deaths since 2008. Unfortunately, our state also experienced an increase in unrestrained passenger deaths, alcohol-related deaths, bicyclists fatalities, and pedestrian fatalities. In fact, pedestrian deaths were higher in 2015 than at any point in the previous ten years except 2012.
Nationally, 5,376 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes, more than at any point since 2009. The majority of these accidents occur between 6 p.m. and midnight at non-intersections. In nearly half of these crashes, the pedestrian had a blood alcohol concentration level of .08 or higher.
The IIHS reports that safety measures that separate motor vehicles from other types of roadway are beneficial, and can include traffic barriers, sidewalks, underpasses, overpasses, speed reductions and refuge islands. Other measures, such as intersection traffic signal timing improvements, pedestrian crosswalk beacons, and increased lighting and illumination in areas where pedestrians and motor vehicle share the road.
Crash avoidance technologies and backup cameras are becoming standard in new vehicles and these measures, such as when the braking system is automatically engaged when an impact is imminent, may save lives. However, they are still too new to accurately gauge their effectiveness.
As much as the state can do, vehicle operators have to do more also. Most fatal crashes are 100 percent preventable, and most involve alcohol, drugs, speeding, or distractions. Drivers must take their responsibilities to all roadway users seriously and must remain focused on the road ahead of them while being aware of what’s going on around the vehicle.