Last year, 2020, was a year none of us will ever forget. Turmoil and trauma were its hallmarks.
It had its puzzling features as well.
One of the most puzzling involves the rise in pedestrian deaths in Connecticut and around the country at a time when there was a corresponding, and at times, steep drop in vehicular traffic.
It's important to note that pedestrian deaths have been increasing in the U.S. since 2012, both here and across the U.S.
But how is it possible that more pedestrians died in 2020 compared to prior years with fewer cars on the roads?
Sixty-five pedestrians died in Connecticut last year, six more than the prior year.
And here's another puzzler…
According to CT DOT data, 2020 saw a drop in vehicular traffic and a drop in accidents involving pedestrians (1,568 vs. 842).
So, what is going on?
There appear to be several factors:
- More people were out running, walking, and cycling due to COVID.
- Driving at excessive speeds. With less traffic, some people felt empowered to travel at excessive speeds. Clocked speeds on Connecticut roads in April and May 2020 were some of the highest ever recorded by the state.
- Drivers continue to allow distractions like cell phones and in-vehicle entertainment systems to divert their attention from the road.
- More trucks and SUVs are on the road (yes – America is falling back in love with SUVs).
Some also suggest that more drivers are driving under the influence due in part to the stress of the pandemic.
How Do We Keep Pedestrians Safer?
Before the pandemic struck and before the Connecticut legislative session was shortened, a number of changes in state law were under consideration.
Among the proposed modifications were these:
- Giving municipalities the right to reduce speed limits in certain areas.
- Steeply increasing the fines for those caught using their cell phones to the level of fines for drunk driving offenses.
- Prohibiting "dooring" (an act involving opening a car door in the path of a cyclist or pedestrian).
- Prohibiting people from parking a car or truck within 25 feet of a pedestrian crosswalk.
One thing is clear: we need to make our roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists. It is our sincere hope that the Connecticut General Assembly will take up this issue again in 2021.
If you or a loved one are ever injured while walking, running, or cycling in Connecticut, know that the Connecticut personal injury lawyers at RisCassi & Davis have been assisting people like you who've been injured in these accidents for over 60 years. And we have received both state and national recognition for our work in this area. If you are ever injured in an accident of any kind and would like a free consultation with one of our Connecticut personal injury lawyers, please contact us. There is no obligation.