What's the best way to help control traffic congestion, pollution and weight gain? Get out there and use your own two feet or a bicycle to get around. These low-cost exercises have numerous health benefits, and many people, perhaps you included, are already taking advantage of them.
The problem is that walking and cycling continue to become more and more dangerous across the country, including here in Missouri. According to the federal government, over 6,200 pedestrians and approximately 857 bicyclists lost their lives in 2018, and the final numbers for 2019 could end up even higher. To put this in perspective, this is an approximately 53% increase for pedestrians and around a 36% increase for cyclists since 2009.
What's going on?
Overall, it appears that new vehicle safety features have reduced the number of car accident fatalities, but pedestrians and cyclists are dying in ever increasing numbers. Why? Researchers point to two primary reasons. The first is the increasing numbers of pickup trucks and SUVs on the roadways. The higher profile of these vehicles means impacts with pedestrians cause more damage to those on foot who were already extremely vulnerable to injury.
The second is smartphones. Using electronics while driving and walking contributes to a certain number of deaths each year. Drivers and/or pedestrians allow their electronic devices to distract them. The precious seconds in which a driver is looking at a device instead of the road could result in disaster. Other contributing factors include the darkness of the overnight hours, a lack of good public transportation and the walkability of an area.
What happens if an accident occurs?
Does all this mean you should stop walking or using your bicycle? Of course not. However, you may want to make sure you pay close attention to your surroundings at all times and take other precautionary measures. If your efforts at keeping you and your family safe fail to keep you from suffering injuries or losing a loved one in a pedestrian or bicycle accident, it could change your life dramatically, even if only in the short term.
Your financial losses could add up quickly, and that will add additional stress to an already challenging situation. If your injuries or the loss of your loved one resulted from the negligence or recklessness of another person, it may be possible to pursue compensation to help with the financial impact of the accident through the filing of a personal injury claim against the party or parties believed responsible.