Pedestrians bear the brunt of increase in U.S. traffic fatalities

This article looks at how an increase in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities is driving overall traffic trends.

Traffic fatalities rose by an alarming 7.7 percent in 2015, according to PBS Newshour, with some of the biggest increases coming from pedestrian and cyclist deaths. The recently released data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that an improving economy and lower gas prices are at least partly to blame for the upward trend in overall traffic fatalities. The data is especially concerning in New York City, which has so far seen a dramatic increase in cyclist deaths this year when compared to the same time last year.

Traffic deaths up nationwide

Last year was certainly a bad one in terms of traffic safety. A total of 35,200 people lost their lives in traffic accidents nationwide in 2015, up 7.7 percent from 2014. That figure also made 2015 the deadliest year on America's roads since 2008, when 37,423 people were killed. Additionally, the fatality rate increased from 1.08 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles travelled in 2014 to 1.12 death per 100 million vehicle miles travelled last year.

The increase in deaths, however, was not spread evenly across all groups. Cyclist and pedestrian deaths, for example, grew at a much faster pace than other types of traffic accident deaths. Cyclist fatalities rose by 13 percent last year, while pedestrian fatalities were up by 10 percent. Motorcyclist deaths also outpaced the national average, up nine percent in 2015.

Making roads safer

The news that cycling can be dangerous probably won't come as much of a surprise to New Yorkers. As the New York Times reports, so far this year 12 cyclists have been killed in New York City, more than twice the five cyclists who had been killed at the same point last year.

While the overall increase in traffic fatalities is being attributed to cheaper gas and an improving economy, an increase in bicycle use is also contributing to the problem. In Brooklyn alone, for example, the number of people commuting to work via bicycle increased by 75 percent between 2010 and 2014, creating more opportunities for sometimes deadly encounters between bicycles and motor vehicles. Many cycling advocates also point out that the vast majority of streets are designed primarily with cars in mind and that many fatal accidents are a result of motorists being negligent or reckless.

Injured in an accident?

An accident can leave people suffering from injuries that can take months and even years to recover from. Not only do accident victims have to contend with their physical injuries, but in many cases they will be up against severe financial challenges as well. A personal injury attorney can help accident victims, including by guiding them through legal options that may be available and helping them file claims against any potentially at-fault parties.