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Phone use behind spike in pedestrian-motor vehicle deaths

May 12, 2017 by Steven M. Gursten

A new report reveals an alarming trend: an 11% rise in pedestrian deaths. How Michigan No-Fault protects walkers, pedestrians and children hit by a car

pedestrian deaths

As the weather finally begins to warm up, local streets become more crowded with people. In some areas, such as Ann Arbor, we see pedestrians playing Frogger with cars.

But this is happening at a time when both drivers and walkers are more distracted than ever, and this is leading to a disturbing new trend: a big spike in pedestrian deaths and pedestrians being hit by cars for 2016.

A new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association projects an 11% rise in pedestrian fatalities in 2016. That puts the state of Michigan at close to 190 fatalities for 2016 based on an 11% projected national increase over 2015 for the state.

Why the big jump in pedestrian-motor vehicle deaths?

Overall U.S. traffic deaths have begun an alarming trend with preliminary data showing 2016 may have been the deadliest year for motorists since 2007. Combine distracted drivers with distracted walkers, especially people using cell phones when walking, and the results are sadly but predictably more pedestrians hit by cars and more pedestrian deaths and injuries.

What can we do to reduce rate of pedestrian deaths?

The No. 1 rule for anyone walking, biking or using a motorized or non-motorized mode of transportation is simple: pay attention!

Don’t look at your phone, make sure drivers can see you, and always try to cross the street at a marked intersection. With over 80% of pedestrian deaths occurring outside of intersections, always use the crosswalk and obey all traffic signals. When you are standing on a corner, try to make eye contact with the driver before you proceed, even when you have the right of way.

What if I get hit by a car while walking?

Because Michigan is a state with No-Fault auto insurance, pedestrians are provided with benefits from their own auto insurer if they are injured by a vehicle regardless of who was at fault. There will always be No-Fault to cover children, whether from parents and resident relatives, or the owner or driver of the car that hit them, or as a safety net from the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan.

If the driver who caused your injuries was found to be negligent, you can also receive additional compensation in the form of “pain and suffering” damages for an injury. For more information about your right to collect No Fault auto insurance benefits, and your right to bring a first-party auto No Fault claim and a third-party injury claim against a driver who hit you or another pedestrian, we recommend you call an experienced Michigan injury attorney to discuss your legal rights and possible case.

What can drivers do to prevent pedestrian deaths?

The same rules for a pedestrian apply to a driver: put down the phone! Pedestrians are not surrounded by steel, and the risk of injuries is much higher: Michigan Traffic Crash Facts states that of the 2,482 pedestrians involved in crashes in 2015, 82% were injured. While benefits are provided under a pedestrian’s own auto insurance, we have seen numerous cases where a driver who failed to obey traffic laws and caused severe injuries or death was sued for negligence. This does not include any potential criminal charges brought about by local law enforcement — something all of us should consider carefully before getting behind the wheel and driving through busy crosswalks while distracted.

The risks of pedestrian deaths are real

Sadly, we’ve seen firsthand the devastation involving pedestrian deaths and injuries. Our attorneys are currently working on cases involving a 50-year-old man who was hit by a truck and a 3-year-old girl killed by a distracted driver. Instances like these are easily preventable but are becoming more common. As warmer weather brings more people outdoors, please keep these tragic examples in mind when driving and walking.

If you have been injured as a pedestrian in an auto accident, our injury attorneys are here to answer all of your questions. Call Michigan Auto Law at (248) 353-7575 or use our consultation form.

To see the full Governors Highway Safety Association Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities report, click here.

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