CLEVELAND — According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a pedestrian was killed every 85 minutes and injured every seven minutes in traffic crashes in 2019.
Each year, more than 6,000 pedestrians are killed on the roadways in the United States. The death toll skyrocketing by more than 50% between 2009 and 2019.
“Driving requires everyone's attention, and people don't realize that people think that they can multitask,” said Cathy Chase, president of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “But it really requires your visual and your cognitive abilities to drive.”
The NHTSA says about 76% of those fatalities occur at night when the risk is higher for impaired, distracted, or drowsy driving,
Despite fewer cars on the roads during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a projected 21% jump in the number of pedestrians killed in 2020 compared to 2019. In Ohio, there was a 20% increase with 154 deaths.
“No one gets into the car in the morning and thinks I'm going to hit a pedestrian today. And yet it's happening. It's happening every day. It's happening every hour and a half,” Chase said. “People are driving too fast. People are driving while distracted, drunk, drugged, and drowsy. These behaviors are especially deadly to pedestrians and other vulnerable road users.”
Chase and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety are urging the U.S. Department of Transportation for improved safety measures, like Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), lane departure warnings and blind spot warnings.
“Unfortunately, these systems are only in high-end models or packaged with other non-safety features, such as a heated steering wheel to the tune of two or three thousand dollars. And not everyone can afford that,” Chase said
Last year, the Ohio Department of Transportation set aside $10 million for a statewide pedestrian safety program. It paid for improvements at more than 450 locations with the most deadly and serious crashes involving pedestrians.
The city of Akron received $800,000 to help with improving pedestrian safety through the program.
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