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How Today’s Vehicles Put Pedestrians and Cyclists at Higher Risk of Injury

Pedestrian accident Nashville TNFatalities from car-on-car collisions are declining as new technologies help keep passengers safe inside of vehicles. But what about pedestrians? Whether on bicycle or foot, personal injuries continue to rise for those involved in a vehicular collision.

Are the vehicles we buy safe? A look at shifting trends

Personal vehicles in the U.S. have gotten bigger, heavier, and safer in recent decades – safer for passengers, that is. The trend towards sport utility vehicles has taken off since SUVs first surpassed sedan sales in 2015. Already, SUV sales are double that of sedans. Americans want the functionality, visibility, and silhouette that come with SUVs. Technology and style advances have propelled the shift to larger, sportier vehicles. Yet across the board, car makers continue to place safety as a top priority. Fortunately, today’s vehicles are the safest yet for drivers and passengers alike.

On the flip side, this trend is putting the least protected on the roads at even higher risk of injury. Heavier vehicles with more durable, high set bodies like SUVs are cause for major concern for cyclists and pedestrians who are also sharing the roadways. Reports suggest that the inertia of heavier vehicles means greater chance of serious injury at even minor speed increases. The heavier and safer a car is for its passengers, the more dangerous it is for others. Manufacturers are focused on building safety technologies to protect those operating and riding inside their vehicles. But what about everyone else on the street?

Why are pedestrians at greater risk of an injury from a large vehicle?

The U.S. requires vehicles to be put through rigorous rounds of testing to ensure safety, but the NCAP, or New Car Assessment Program, does not account for pedestrians in crash testing. Five star safety ratings turn a blind eye toward automobile injuries outside the vehicle. This has essentially left pedestrian safety up to cities and communities to fight for on their own. Local governments and advocacy groups face an upward battle when aiming to create laws and infrastructure to encourage safety for street goers and cyclists. Unfortunately, the war rages on.

39 pedestrians were killed last year in Nashville

That’s right; even with the 2020 COVID related traffic declines, 39 pedestrians were killed by vehicles in Nashville alone. Walk Bike Nashville cites many of the same factors as above as to why these crash fatalities continue. Larger state roads with higher speed limits accounted for 71% of the fatalities, and the majority of incidents occurred at night. Now more than ever, distracted or drowsy drivers have an increasingly higher chance at taking a pedestrian’s life than their own.

What are the 5 greatest risk factors for injury in a Nashville car accident?

Changing automobile trends could be fueling the severity of car collisions, however, these main risk factors still remain the biggest influences on incidents occurring at all, and the extent to which damages occur. Here are the greatest variables in terms of fatalities, injuries, and damages:

  • Alcohol use. It’s no surprise alcohol means trouble on the road. Both drivers and pedestrians are at heightened risk of collision and injury while under the influence. Nearly half of all fatal crashes involve either the driver or pedestrian drinking. “Walking under the influence” can be just as deadly as a DUI.
  • Pedestrians aged 65 and older account for 10% of all crash related injuries, according to the CDC. Incidents involving the elderly result in 20% of all pedestrian crash deaths. Children are also at heightened risk of death by way of collision. 1 in 5 children killed by traffic accidents were pedestrians in 2017.
  • Vehicle speed. As mentioned earlier, speed plays a significant role in the likelihood of someone being struck by a vehicle, as well as how severely their injuries may be as a result. As cars continue to rise in weight, speed will become an increasingly important determinate for pedestrian crash injuries.
  • Yes, you guessed it; urban areas like Nashville see the most pedestrian deaths due to crashes. Higher populations are walking, cycling, and driving on the roads. However, it is interesting to note that most incident locations are not at intersections. This plays into the speed factor, as roads with higher speed limits and less foot traffic see more incidents.
  • Time of day. Visibility paired with distracted or impaired driving is a recipe for disaster in pedestrian collisions. This is why nighttime is a dangerous determinate for pedestrian injuries and fatalities.

What are your rights when it comes to pedestrian personal injury claim?

As you can see, there’s a lot that can influence a pedestrian car crash. Certainly, negligence and wrongdoing can be committed by both parties. Driving or walking while intoxicated, speeding, walking along restricted access roadways, disobeying traffic laws, etc. can all be factors that allow a collision with serious injury to occur. Do you know your rights under Tennessee law?

Tennessee has comparative negligence laws. This means that even if both parties are at fault, the injured is still able to recover damages. The court will assess percentages of blame by weighing law infractions and negligence by either party. Payment for damages of negligence will be reduced according to the percentage of the plaintiff’s fault. Therefore, creating a strong case is crucial to determining weighted fault and receiving fair compensation. Even with an element of fault, if you or someone close to you has experienced anything from minor injuries to death following a collision with a vehicle, it is within your rights to fight for compensation towards damages. Don’t hesitate when it comes to seeking justice for a detrimental crash.

If you or a loved one has suffered personal injuries or been killed by a vehicle, please call us today so we can help fight for justice. To speak to one of our experienced Nashville pedestrian accident attorneys, call Rocky McElhaney Law Firm at 615-425-2500, or fill out the contact form to schedule a free consultation. We maintain offices in Nashville, Hendersonville, and Clarksville, Tennessee.