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Drivers in fatal pedestrian accidents rarely face punishment

Pedestrian accidents happen quite often, and many pedestrians that are struck in these wrecks suffer fatal injuries. In the Twin Cities area, there were 3,069 pedestrian crashes from 2010 to 2014, and of those wrecks, 95 pedestrians were killed. What's interesting about this data is that crashes in the suburbs accounted for nearly double the number of pedestrian fatalities as accidents in the cities. Even more interesting, and infuriating, many of these fatal wrecks didn't result in punishment for the drivers involved.

For example, of the drivers involved in those 95 fatal pedestrian accidents, only 28 of them were charged with a criminal offense, most of which were misdemeanors such as careless driving. Few saw jail time, and many simply pay fines or financial penalties relating to the crash.

This isn't to say that every pedestrian accident is the fault of the driver involved, nor does it mean that every driver involved in a pedestrian accident deserves severe punishment. But it is interesting to see just how light the punishment is for motor vehicle drivers who hit pedestrians.

So what does this mean for everyone? Well, there are a couple of lessons. The first is that everyone is a pedestrian at some point. Remember this when you are driving. Be acutely aware of intersections and the people attempting to cross the street. That could be you on another day, so you want to be safe while driving around pedestrians. Also, pedestrians need to be safe too. Cross in the crosswalk and only go when the light says you can go.

Additionally, this data is a reminder that sometimes, a civil lawsuit is the only way that an injured pedestrian can obtain the justice he or she deserves after an accident.

Source: Star Tribune, "In crashes that kill pedestrians, the majority of drivers don't face charges," Eric Roper, May 22, 2016

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