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U.S. pedestrian fatalities increasing

California residents may be dismayed to learn that an estimated 6,000 pedestrians were killed in 2016, which is an 11 percent increase over 2015, according to preliminary figures released by the Governors Highway Safety Association. If the projection holds, it will represent the highest number of pedestrian deaths recorded in about 20 years.

The estimate is based on national data gathered over the first half of 2016 and projected over the entire year. Between January and June last year, 2,660 pedestrians died across the U.S., compared to 2,486 fatalities over the first six months of 2015. That means that around 620 more pedestrians died in 2016 than 2015. It is the second straight year that pedestrian fatalities spiked sharply over the previous year. In 2015, pedestrian deaths jumped more than 9 percent over 2014. Overall, pedestrian fatalities increased 25 percent between 2010 and 2015.

Traffic safety experts believe several factors are behind the spike in deaths, including the fact that Americans are driving more miles due to lower gas prices and walking more for exercise. Alcohol is also a factor, with statistics showing that 15 percent of vehicle occupants and 34 percent of pedestrians killed were impaired at the time of the accident. However, the biggest factor is believed to be smartphones and other devices, which regularly distract both drivers and pedestrians.

Each year, distracted driving kills or injures thousands of people across the U.S. Some people who suffer serious injuries from a car accident choose to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who caused the crash. If the suit is successful, an injured victim could be awarded compensation for medical costs, lost wages and other related damages.

Source: Auto Blog, "Pedestrian deaths spike: Distracted driving - and walking - blamed", Greg Rasa, March 30, 2017

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