Pedestrian Accident Statistics Reveal Fatalities Increase in North Carolina

A new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) says the U.S. suffered the most pedestrian fatalities in nearly 30 years in 2018 after a 4 percent increase from the number of pedestrian deaths in car accidents recorded in 2017. The report also shows that North Carolina is among the states with the largest number of pedestrian deaths and the highest year-over-year increase in pedestrian fatalities.

The GHSA says the recent increase in pedestrian fatalities could be due in part to the growth in smartphone use over the past decade, which can be a significant source of distraction for motorists and people on foot. In essence, more people are walking and they, as well as drivers, are often distracted by phones.

At Hardison & Cochran, we assist people in North Carolina who have been injured in pedestrian accidents caused by careless motorists as well as the families of pedestrians killed by negligent drivers. A pedestrian accident attorney at Hardison & Cochran can review the details of your accident and explain your rights to compensation during a free consultation. It’s important to report hit-and-run accidents to police authorities and ask for legal assistance right away.

Where Do Most Pedestrian Fatalities Occur in the U.S.?

The Governors Highway Safety Association says in its report that it estimates that 6,227 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle crashes nationwide in 2018. The projection reflects a continuation of an increasing trend in pedestrian deaths going back to 2009 and would be the largest annual number of pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. since 1990.

Pedestrians are projected to account for 16 percent of all traffic deaths in 2018, compared to 12 percent in 2007.

“While we have made progress reducing fatalities among many other road users in the past decade, pedestrian deaths have risen 35 percent,” GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins says in a news release accompanying the report.

According to the report, for the first half of 2018 compared with the same period in 2017:

  • 25 states (and Washington, D.C.) had increases in pedestrian fatalities
  • 23 states had decreases
  • Two states remained the same.

Five states accounted for almost half (46 percent) of all pedestrian deaths:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Texas.

Seven states are each expected to have had more than 100 pedestrian deaths in 2018:

  • California — 413 pedestrian fatalities
  • Florida — 330
  • Texas — 298
  • Georgia — 133
  • Arizona — 125
  • New York — 117
  • North Carolina — 102.

Pedestrian Accident Statistics In North Carolina

The 102 pedestrian fatalities projected for 2018 in North Carolina represent a 23 percent increase from the previous year. The 19 additional deaths make North Carolina No. 12 on the list for highest percentage increase.

North Carolina’s rate of pedestrian deaths is slightly better than average on a per capita basis. North Carolina’s pedestrian fatality rate per 100,000 population was 0.98. The U.S. average is 1.91 per 100,000 population.

Twelve states and Washington, D.C. had pedestrian fatality rates of 1.0 or higher per 100,000 population. New Mexico had the highest rate of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 resident population at 3.53, while Minnesota had the lowest, at 0.75 per 100,000.

Common Reasons for Accidents Involving Pedestrians

The GHSA study points out that:

  • Darkness poses an especially high risk for those traveling by foot. On a national basis, about 75 percent of pedestrian fatalities in 2017 occurred after dark.
  • Most pedestrian fatalities occurred in urban areas on local streets, followed by state highways. Ten percent of the total occurred on interstates, including motorists struck while standing outside of their cars due to mechanical issues or minor crashes.
  • The majority of pedestrian fatalities occurred at non-intersection locations. A fourth of pedestrian fatalities in 2017 occurred at intersections or were intersection-related.
  • Alcohol impairment — of the driver and/or pedestrian — contributed to about half of traffic crashes that resulted in pedestrian fatalities in 2017. Thirty-two percent of pedestrians and 17 percent of drivers in fatal pedestrian accidents had a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher.

The GHSA says many factors outside the control of traffic safety officials contribute to annual increases in the number of pedestrian fatalities. Pedestrian deaths had been declining for decades until 2009, when smartphone sales and data use began to spike, Richard Retting, the report’s author, told the Associated Press.

Demographic changes and better economic conditions have led to more people being on the streets. For example, the 10 states with the highest population growth from 2017 to 2018 – Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah, Texas and Washington State – had an overall 5 percent increase in the number of pedestrian fatalities during the first six month of 2018 compared with the same period in 2017.

The increasing shift in U.S. vehicle sales away from passenger cars to SUVs and light trucks has led to more fatalities. Passenger cars remain the largest category of vehicles involved in fatal pedestrian crashes, but the number of pedestrian fatalities involving SUVs increased at a faster rate — 50 percent – from 2013 to 2017 than passenger cars, which increased by 30 percent.

Car and pedestrian accidents are correlated, the author of the study said a pedestrian is much more likely to die in an SUV crash than in a car crash at comparable impact speeds, Retting said. The chances of fatal injuries increase significantly when hit by an SUV, even at 20 or 25 miles per hour.

Fortunately, every state is addressing pedestrian safety using a combination of engineering, education and enforcement and several federal government programs make resources available to help states reduce pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries. In North Carolina, the “Watch for Me NC” program grant supports law enforcement training and public education related to crosswalk and pedestrian traffic laws.

Call a North Carolina Lawyer After a Pedestrian Accident

Hardison & Cochran may be able to help if you were hit and injured by a car, SUV or truck driven by a negligent driver, or a loved one of yours died in a pedestrian accident. You may be eligible to obtain compensation for your losses including medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, and for your pain and suffering.

Contact us in Raleigh from anywhere in North Carolina to set up a free legal consultation about your case and how we see moving forward with a claim for you.

About the Author

Hardison & Cochran was established based on the conviction that a modern approach was essential in today’s legal landscape. Focused on delivering exceptional results through a skilled team, the firm prioritizes personal attention, integrity, and client needs. Each attorney, paralegal, and staff member is dedicated to this vision. Over three decades, with Ben Cochran overseeing daily operations, the firm has evolved into a highly respected practice.