DANVILLE, MONTOUR COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Walking across the street without incident is something many of us take for granted. But a new study is raising cause for concern about pedestrian safety. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller checked out the study and what’s driving up some disturbing numbers.
Mill Street in Danville is one busy road. This business district attracts plenty of car and foot traffic resulting in a need to be alert to avoid tragedy. “I see that all the time on the news about people being hit by cars,” said Danville native Julie Daley.
A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report shows pedestrian fatalities increased a whopping 46 percent since 2009. Ms. Daley said, “I don’t think drivers are vigilant a lot of the time. They’re going too fast or trying to get where they’re going and they’re not paying attention.”
“In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in pedestrian fatalities and injuries,” said Geisinger Pediatric Trauma Case Manager Judy Egly, RN. In 2016 alone, nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed in the U.S. which represents the most in nearly 30 years. Speeding is far from the only reason for the dramatic uptick. Another theory behind the pedestrian fatality spike is the increasing number of SUV’s on the road. With their higher, vertical front end design, it could lead to deadly consequences.
From 2009 to 2016, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports an 81 percent increase in single-vehicle pedestrian fatalities involving SUV’s. But that doesn’t explain other factors like driving under the influence, ignoring pedestrian right of way and jaywalking.
While cities like Ann Arbor, Michigan are doing public safety campaigns, Ms. Egly coordinates injury prevention activities for children. “We’ve been going out and doing some pedestrian safety activities.”
AAA Mid-Atlantic also drives home a message of safety to the community like avoiding texting and other distractions in traffic. The message also applies to pedestrians. AAA Mid-Atlantic Traffic Safety Community Educator Andreea Higdon said, “Their heads are in that phone and they’re not looking up so they’re getting hit by cars.” AAA Mid-Atlantic Senior Public Affairs Specialist Kathleen Zinszer said, “It’s a dangerous situation and everybody has to work together to try and get those numbers down.”