New Vehicle Safety Standards Proposed as US Pedestrian Fatalities Surge
New Hampshire hasn't seen a jump in pedestrian deaths, but just one is too many.
Until the last five years, the average number of pedestrian fatalities per year had consistently declined to about 11% of roadway deaths. Now, in a troubling national trend, pedestrians make up an alarming 17% of all traffic deaths.
Although deadly pedestrian accidents have risen sharply in the U.S., the trend has not reached New Hampshire, where the number of pedestrian deaths typically decreases from year to year. In 2021, there were eight fatal pedestrian accidents in New Hampshire, accounting for 7% of overall traffic deaths in the state, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
However, the state still has a worrisome problem with pedestrian accidents. Recent fatal and serious pedestrian accidents in Manchester, Hudson, and Durham are stark reminders of the dangers people on foot face on our roads.
As communities grapple with the devastating consequences, federal regulators have proposed new vehicle safety standards to address this alarming trend. But will that be enough to address the root causes of pedestrian crashes?
Why pedestrian accidents happen
New Hampshire has not been as affected by the deadly pedestrian accident trend because of the state's rural landscape, researchers say. Fatal pedestrian accidents affect cities with larger populations and higher traffic volumes. Still, many of the same factors causing pedestrian deaths in other states can be found in New Hampshire.
Pedestrian accidents can occur due to a variety of factors. Distracted driving, speeding, impaired driving, and failure to yield to pedestrians are common causes of such accidents. Additionally, inadequate pedestrian infrastructure, such as poorly designed crosswalks and insufficient signage, can contribute to the vulnerability of pedestrians.
Safer vehicles and roadways for all users
Recognizing the urgent need to reduce pedestrian accidents, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration recently proposed new vehicle safety standards. One of the key measures is the addition of a pedestrian crash test during a vehicle's assessment. This test would evaluate the vehicle's ability to protect pedestrians in case of a collision. Additionally, the NHTSA aims to set new standards for automatic emergency braking technology, which can help prevent or minimize collisions with pedestrians by applying the brakes automatically.
While the implementation of new safety standards is a significant step forward, other improvements must be considered as well, including:
- Improved infrastructure. Enhancing intersection signal timing, installing pedestrian traffic beacons, increasing lighting in high-risk areas, and implementing refuge islands can significantly reduce risks for pedestrians.
- Public awareness. Educating the public about the importance of responsible driving, pedestrian safety, and the consequences of impaired and distracted driving is crucial to fostering a culture of road safety.
New Hampshire pedestrian accident lawyers
Proposed new safety standards offer hope for a safer future, but drivers still have a responsibility to pedestrians to share the road. In addition to safety improvements, ensuring negligent drivers take responsibility can also help reduce deadly pedestrian accidents.
At Burns, Bryant, Cox, Rockefeller & Durkin, P.A., we hold negligent drivers accountable and fight for the rights of crash victims. If you were injured or a loved one died in a New Hampshire pedestrian accident, contact us for a free case consultation. We can listen to the details of your accident and explain your potential legal options.