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Pedestrian deaths climb as car accident deaths decrease

The number of deaths from car accidents has decreased in recent years but more and more pedestrians are suffering personal injuries from car strikes. NHTSA data indicate that pedestrian fatalities rose 4.2 percent in 2010 and the number of personal injuries from pedestrian accidents climbed 19 percent to 70,000. These injuries and deaths happen at a time when car accident deaths are near historic lows.

Some traffic safety experts are puzzled by the statistics but a few suggestions have been put forward including the fact that many roads are not designed with pedestrians in mind and may therefore be dangerous.

"What we do know is that conditions have not improved substantially for pedestrians," said David Goldberg, spokesman for Transportation for America, a safety advocacy coalition. "The road design problems we pointed out in our report earlier this year are still out there."

Goldberg added that there are many more pedestrians walking around in areas that are designed for cars and not walkers.

Pedestrian and driver distraction may also play a role in a number of pedestrian accidents. Drivers who are preoccupied with their cellphones are more likely to strike a pedestrian in a crosswalk and other vehicles. Distracted drivers are responsible for countless preventable personal injuries in Montana every year and the problem seems to be growing with the popularity of smartphones throughout the state.

Alcohol is also a noted factor in many pedestrian accidents. About a third of the pedestrian accidents in 2009 involved legally intoxicated pedestrians and about 13 percent of the accidents involved a legally intoxicated driver.

Source: USA Today,"As U.S. road deaths drop, more pedestrians getting struck," Larry Copeland, Dec. 9, 2011

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