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Pedestrian accidents increasing in U.S.

A disturbing trend has appeared in recent years. After decades of declining, in 2010, pedestrian deaths began to rise. A report this year from the Governors Highway Safety Association, (GHSA) notes the trend, and reminds everyone, that no matter how you get from point A to point B, you probably walk at some point.

Whether you merely get out of your car at a parking lot in Plymouth, have to navigate downtown streets in Detroit or go for a walk near your suburban home, you are a pedestrian every day and so pedestrian safety is important to you. The GHSA also reminds us that a pedestrian dies on average every two hours and suffers injuries from motor vehicle collisions every eight minutes.

The health benefits of walking are undisputed, and many cities are rebuilding areas to create walkable zones and provide incentives to get out of the car and walk. However, the injuries resulting from even a minor pedestrian accident can be life-changing.

The size disparity means even a low speed collision in a parking lot could leave you with permanent harm including spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries.

As with driving, a growing concern involves "distracted walking," where pedestrians focused on their cellphone screens can become so distracted that they walk in front of moving vehicles. And pedestrians should always watch for distracted drivers; having the right of way means little after a vehicle strikes you.

And the report points out, a number of pedestrians killed every year included "unintended pedestrians." Drivers who get out of their vehicles on interstates or other busy highways are at very high risk of being struck by very fast traffic that may not be looking out for pedestrians.

A key message is that awareness on everyone's part, including walkers, bikers, and motorists is necessary, as you never know when you may be the pedestrian.

Source: ghsa.org, "Everyone walks," Governors Highway Safety Association, August 2015

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