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An Unlikely Effect of the Pandemic: Rising Pedestrian Fatalities

Father and son walking across a busy street

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the United States had seen an increase in pedestrian deaths at the hands of motorists. While many people have minimized their driving time due to varied restrictions there are still several contributing factors.

The Numbers

According to an article published in the New York Times, Texas pedestrian deaths climbed to a record high in 2021.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Organization, crashes in the United States killed more than 6,700 pedestrians in 2020 which is a 5% increase from the 6,412 killed the year before.

Not only has there been an increase in pedestrian fatalities but also an increase in overall vehicle related fatalities.

Nearly 32,000 people were killed in vehicle crashes during the first nine months of 2021. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, that is a 12% increase from 2020.

The Causes

Art Markman, a cognitive scientist at University of Texas at Austin, thinks this is related to the emotional strain people are feeling during the pandemic.

“We’re all a bit at the end of our rope on things,” Dr. Markman said. “When you get angry in the car, it generates energy — and how do you dissipate that energy? Well, one way is to put your foot down a little bit more on the accelerator.”

Other contributing factors include:

  • Rising anxiety levels
  • Pandemic drinking leading to drunk driving
  • Emptier roads allowing motorists to pick up speed faster
  • Larger, heavier vehicles with harder impact
  • Newer vehicles with advanced safety features giving drivers a false sense of security

What You Can Do

The stressful nature of life mid-pandemic has certainly influenced drivers.

“There’s a portion of the population that is incredibly frustrated, enraged, and some of that behavior shows up in their driving,” said Mark Hallenbeck, director of the Washington State Transportation Center at the University of Washington.

The biggest thing to prevent more of these fatalities is to practice safe driving. Ways to do this include sober driving, maintaining speed limits, and looking out for pedestrians. Let’s take time to breathe and consider the lives of those we share the roadways with.

If You Have Been Impacted by This

If you or someone you love has been impacted by reckless driving, don’t hesitate to reach out to McCraw Law Group.

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