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Advances in Pedestrian Safety Lag Behind Improvements in Motor Vehicle Safety

August 23, 2011

While there has been dramatic increases in recent years in motor vehicle safety and reduced injuries and fatalities in collisions between motor vehicles, these improvements have not translated into improved pedestrian safety.

A recent report by Transportation for America suggests that not only has pedestrian safety been largely ignored but that improvements in terms of safer roadway construction to protect vehicle occupants have actually exacerbated pedestrian accidents. With the increasing focus on health costs and obesity-related health issues, there is renewed concern with making our streets safer for walking. A separate February 2011 study revealed that voters identified improving street safety for pedestrians as a top goal.

Recent statistics on roadway safety make clear that while there has been substantial increases in motor vehicle safety, the picture is much grimmer when it comes to pedestrian safety. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveals that during a recent ten year period almost 50,000 pedestrians were killed and almost 670,000 have been injured in collisions with motor vehicles. This is the equivalent of a pedestrian being struck by a motor vehicle every seven minutes. The new report indicates that pedestrian fatalities account for 12 percent of traffic-related fatalities, but only 1.5 percent of the budget for federal road construction funds has been allocated to promote safer roads for pedestrians.

This failure to make pedestrian accidents a priority has resulted in a clear disparity between motor vehicle and pedestrian accident rates according to the recent report. During the ten-year period of the study, motor vehicle fatalities declined 27 percent. Unfortunately, pedestrian fatalities have declined by only 14 percent during the same timeframe. The record of neglect toward pedestrian safety is even more troubling in major metro areas like Atlanta. Despite an overall decrease in traffic-related deaths nationally during the ten-year period, pedestrian fatalities actually increased in the 15 largest metro areas. This data is bolstered by recent data from the NHTSA that indicates that the severity of pedestrian accidents is rising. The agency recently reported that the likelihood of a pedestrian accident resulting in a fatality has risen by a third during a ten-year period.

The most troubling part of the report is the suggestion that this failure to improve pedestrian safety is a product of intentional road design decisions that focus exclusively on motor vehicle as opposed to pedestrian safety. The report indicates that the poor record of pedestrian safety “occur(s) along ‘arterial’ streets engineered for speeding traffic with little or no provision for people on foot . . .”

The Atlanta metro area (Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta) ranks eleventh nationally in the study of the 52 largest metros in terms of being the most dangerous metro areas for pedestrians. The Atlanta area had almost 800 pedestrian deaths over the ten-year period. This number is even more troubling than it might appear because Atlanta is not among the leading metro areas in terms of the number of pedestrians that commute by foot.

The Atlanta pedestrian accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, have witnessed the danger to those who choose to commute on foot or simply walk and jog for exercise. The increased emphasis on physical fitness and a growing awareness of the danger to pedestrians may result in more consideration of pedestrian safety in future road construction projects in Atlanta. If you or your loved one has been injured or you have lost a loved one to wrongful death in a pedestrian accident in Atlanta, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries or loss of a loved one. Our experienced pedestrian accident lawyers have been representing those injured by the negligence of others in Atlanta and throughout Georgia for over 39 years.

Our Atlanta pedestrian accident attorneys are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Personal Injury

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All information provided by our blogs is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Consult a Montlick attorney for details about your unique situation.