23% of Houston Traffic Deaths Involve Pedestrians

If you were to mention the phrase “car accident” to random strangers, chances are most of them would be thinking of fender benders, head-on collisions, wrong way freeway drivers, and various other incidents involving two vehicles.

The truth, though, is that many vehicles involve only one car, and sometimes, a non-motorist.

This is especially important now that the summer months are coming up, and more people will be spending leisure time outside.

Accidents involving pedestrians or bicyclists take up a decent portion of the pie, but the number of fatalities attributed to them is truly staggering. For the year 2012, pedestrian fatalities alone accounted for 23% of all traffic crash fatalities in Houston, and the numbers were even higher in San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Austin (ranging from 26% to 34% of all fatalities). That means that out of everyone who passed away as a result of a car accident, at least 1-in-4 wasn’t even in a car.

Bicyclist fatalities were a seemingly small 1.6% of the total, but that is still larger than the percentage of crashes involving bicyclists in the first place.

This paints an unpleasant picture that I think most citizens would say is common sense: When a crash involves a pedestrian, it is far more likely to be fatal.

Luckily, there are ways to help fix this. Some of them are engineering solutions, such as putting raised medians in the middle of roads, separating sidewalks from traffic lanes more, and installing pedestrian-controlled flashers to alert drivers to be cautious.

The greatest changes are going to come from behaviors, though. There are no one-and-done easy solutions, though, as the rules are quite clearly spelled out in our various laws. That might seem like a weak conclusion to draw, but the fact is, if everyone followed the law, there would be virtually no accidents at all.

There are activist groups out there who are not only lobbying to have certain laws strengthened, but are also pushing hard for education. It isn’t just aimed at drivers, either, as pedestrians and bicyclists need to follow the same rules of the road they share.

Seeing as how accidents carry such a high risk of being fatal when a pedestrian or bicyclist is involved, even if you can’t attend a specific training class or seminar, we can all focus on being a little more attentive, right?

Source: http://www.star-telegram.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/other-voices/article15293474.html