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Pedestrian fatalities: A clear problem with no clear solution

We think everyone would agree that the most vulnerable individuals on the streets of League City and Galveston are those who make their way around town without the benefit of a personal motor vehicle. You might not wish to classify motorcycle riders in that group, but the reality is that they, too, are at greater risk of injury than others when they get into collisions with cars and trucks.

We have poured a lot of attention into this particular issue in recent weeks. Part of the reason for that is that this is a prime time for pedestrians to be out and about. That being the case, it seems wise to give the issue more due than we might at other times.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers some statistics about pedestrian deaths and injuries that some may find staggering. As recently as 2012, more than 4,700 pedestrians were reported killed in traffic accidents in the United States. Another 76,000 were injured in that year. Averaged out, that means a pedestrian wound up being hurt every 7 minutes and one person died every 2 hours.

Those most at risk for being hurt or killed are older adults and children. One-fifth of the 2012 pedestrian deaths were among individuals 65 or older. Of all the victims between 5 and 15 killed in traffic accidents that year, 20 percent were pedestrians.

Not surprisingly, when alcohol was in the mix things got worse. Nearly half of the crashes that left pedestrians dead in 2012 involved alcohol. Sometimes it was the pedestrian who was impaired. Sometimes it was vehicle driver. Sometimes it was both.

Prevention is part of the CDC's name, even though it gets short shrift when the acronym gets used. In fulfillment of that aspect of its mission, though, the agency offers simple suggestions. Pedestrians should make themselves more visible and cross at designated crosswalks or intersections. Awareness and outreach efforts should take into consideration that the general population is getting older and more ethnically diverse. Environmental changes, such as eliminating curbs, might be wise, too.

Of course, we should all remember that those who are hurt due to someone else's negligence also have a right to seek compensation for their injury and loss.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Pedestrian Safety," accessed July 9, 2015

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