Pedestrian deaths in the United States have reached their highest levels in four decades, and this alarming trend can be attributed, in part, to the increasing popularity of larger vehicles that pose a higher risk of causing fatalities in crashes involving cyclists and pedestrians. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), at least 7,500 pedestrians were struck and killed by drivers last year, with estimates projecting that the numbers will exceed 8,100 as more data is finalized. This would make 2022 the deadliest year for pedestrians since 1980. Unfortunately, these statistics are indicative of a rising trend that began in 2010 and worsened during the pandemic.
The GHSA report highlights several factors contributing to the increase in pedestrian deaths, with the rising popularity of trucks and SUVs playing a significant role. These larger and heavier vehicles are responsible for a growing share of traffic fatalities. Additionally, the absence of sidewalks and unsafe road conditions exacerbate the risks pedestrians face. Most pedestrian deaths occur on roads without sidewalks or at non-intersection locations, and speeding, especially on smaller roads, remains a major contributing factor. Furthermore, the report notes a significant reduction in traffic enforcement efforts by local governments in recent years, further compounding the safety concerns.
South Carolina, unfortunately, ranks as the fourth highest state in the nation for pedestrian deaths. According to a report by Car Insurance Comparison, the state’s pedestrian death rate is 60% higher than the national average. In 2020, South Carolina held the second-highest number of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 population. These statistics underscore the urgent need to address pedestrian safety issues in the state.
In response to the rising number of pedestrian and bicycle deaths and injuries in South Carolina, the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) developed the state’s first Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Action Plan (PBSAP). The plan, published in 2022, was created in collaboration with state and local agencies, colleges, universities, and advocacy groups. It focuses on implementing countermeasures across three key areas: Engineering, Education, and Enforcement, with Emergency Medical Services (EMS) serving as an additional influencing factor.
Engineering countermeasures involve physical improvements to roadways, including pedestrian crossings, bicycle facilities, intersections, and roadways. Education countermeasures aim to provide training and safety education for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists, with a focus on school-age children. Enforcement countermeasures prioritize the enforcement of traffic laws, such as speed limits, to enhance safety for all road users.
While it is crucial for authorities and agencies to take action, pedestrians and drivers also bear responsibilities for ensuring safety on the roads. Pedestrians must use sidewalks whenever available, and if there are no sidewalks, they should travel on the shoulder of the road or the far left side if neither is present. Crosswalks should be utilized whenever possible, and pedestrians must yield to oncoming vehicles when crossing outside of designated areas.
Drivers have a duty to exercise caution and adhere to safe speeds, especially in adverse weather and congested areas. They should be particularly vigilant at crosswalks, intersections, and during peak hours. Utilizing turn signals and being aware of pedestrians with special needs are essential. It is important for drivers to recognize that pedestrian accidents can result from distracted driving or impaired judgment due to substances.
In the unfortunate event of a pedestrian accident, it is crucial to understand your rights and the potential legal recourse available. The statute of limitations in South Carolina allows three years from the date of the accident or injury to file a claim for damages. These damages may include medical expenses, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and attorney fees, among others.
Personal Injury Claims Attorneys serving Surfside Beach, Myrtle Beach and throughout South Carolina
At The Floyd Law Firm PC, we are dedicated to assisting those who have been injured due to pedestrian accidents. With over 100 years of combined experience, our firm has been serving clients for over 50 years. We empathize with the challenges faced by individuals in such situations and possess the knowledge and expertise to secure the compensation necessary to navigate through these difficult circumstances.
Our personal injury claims attorneys provide comprehensive legal representation to clients in Surfside Beach, Myrtle Beach, and throughout South Carolina. We work on a contingent fee basis, meaning we only collect attorney’s fees if we successfully obtain compensation for you. If you have been seriously injured in an accident, trust The Floyd Law Firm PC to provide the experience and guidance you need.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards obtaining the compensation you deserve.