Fatal Pedestrian Accidents on the Rise in Tennessee

While the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a decrease in motor vehicle traffic in Tennessee, the number of deadly pedestrian accidents has gone up. Fatal pedestrian accidents, which began to increase in 2018, have continued to rise through 2020. According to the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security, the state has seen 847 motor vehicle fatalities, including 110 pedestrian deaths, since October 2019. That is 48 more overall fatalities and nine more pedestrian deaths than in the same time period the previous year.

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), which studies traffic and pedestrian accident data in all 50 states, cites a number of possible explanations for the increase in fatal pedestrian accidents. Among them:

  • Excessive speed — With lighter traffic on the roads, motorists may feel emboldened to drive faster than normal. This can be deadly for people on bicycles and on foot.
  • Distracted driving — Anything that takes a motorist’s attention away from the road can lead to a deadly pedestrian accident. Driver distractions include cell phones, texting, email and even applying makeup or eating and drinking behind the wheel.
  • Larger vehicles — Fatal pedestrian accidents involving sport utility vehicles (SUVs) have increased by 80 percent in recent years, according to the GHSA. An SUV weighs 40 percent more than the average car and can top nearly 5,000 pounds.
  • Impaired driving — Intoxicated and impaired drivers cause half of all fatal pedestrian accidents, the GHSA says. Pedestrians, too, may be impaired and in some cases both the driver and the pedestrian are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Older pedestrians — An aging pedestrian population might also play a role in the increase in fatal pedestrian accidents. The rate of deadly pedestrian accidents peaks in people over age 70.
  • Rural pedestrians — While there are more pedestrians in urban areas, the number of pedestrian deaths is higher in rural areas, which tend to have fewer sidewalks. Additionally, motorists are less likely to be watching for pedestrians when they drive on rural roads. It’s also more common for vehicle speeds to be higher on a rural road than on congested city streets.

The GHSA estimates that deaths from pedestrian accidents nationwide will soon reach a 30-year high.

The lawyers at Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, P.C. in Bristol, Tennessee can help if you have been injured or have lost a loved one as a pedestrian in a motor vehicle crash. Call us at 423-797-6022 or contact us online to schedule your free introductory consultation.