Hit-and-run fatalities have seen a marked increase throughout the country as more Americans are bicycling and walking to work, according to the Wall Street Journal. Citing a report released by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the newspaper states that hit-and-run fatalities increased 61 percent between 2009 and 2016. In 2016 alone, 68 percent of the fatalities in hit-and-run accidents were pedestrians or bicyclists. According to the Wall Street Journal, the increase in Americans choosing healthier modes of transportation is the leading cause of the increase in deaths.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 1,980 fatal hit-and-run accidents which caused a stunning 2,050 deaths. Both of these numbers represent record highs, according to the federal agency which has been tracking these statistics for over four decades. Overall, there were 40,000 traffic fatalities in 2017 – the second year the rate of fatalities has seen a significant increase, and following years of declining deaths in traffic accidents.
However, the overall increase in traffic fatalities is not the sole cause for the highest level of bicyclist and pedestrian deaths in forty years. According to the National Safety Council, the increase in smartphone usage – both by drivers and pedestrians – has led to distracted drivers and so-called “distracted pedestrians.” Another reason for the increase involves the public health campaign encouraging Americans to walk or bicycle to work. While the increase in alternative means of commuting has slowed in recent years, a full 40 percent more Americans are biking to work in 2016 compared to 2006.
Largely attributable to Mayor de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” program meant to reduce pedestrian fatalities to zero, New York City has seen a sharp decline in pedestrian deaths. However, bicyclists throughout the city are becoming an increasing cause of pedestrian accidents, according to CBS New York. In the first four months of 2018, police have issued over 5,000 citations to bicyclists ignoring red lights, an almost 10 percent increase from 2017. In addition to running red lights, some bicyclists frequently weave in-and-out of traffic and go onto sidewalks, an especially risky move for pedestrians on the sidewalk. As the city focuses on implementing road designs to protect bicyclists and pedestrians from vehicles, it appears the stereotypically lawless culture of bicyclists in the city may need to change if Mayor de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” program is to reach its noble goal.
The wrongful death attorneys at Gallivan & Gallivan are committed to safety on our roadways. Please contact us to discuss your potential case.