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Distraction could be reason for increase in pedestrian deaths

Minnesota pedestrians may be in more danger of involvement in a deadly traffic accident than people in vehicles even though the fatality rate for traffic accidents in general has risen. However, the pedestrian death rate has risen disproportionately. In 2006, 11 percent of traffic-related fatalities were pedestrian deaths, but by 2015, that number had risen to 15 percent. Furthermore, overall, pedestrian deaths went up 25 percent from 2010 to 2015 compared with a rise of 6 percent in total traffic deaths. In 2016, nearly 6,000 pedestrians died in traffic-related accidents.

One factor is that people are both driving and walking more. Another factor may be alcohol. Around one-third of pedestrians and 15 percent of drivers were under the influence in fatal motor vehicle accidents. However, experts do not believe that these factors alone can account for the increase. Instead, experts believe that the shift may be attributable to an increase in pedestrians using phones while they are walking.

Pedestrians in urban areas are most at risk while in rural areas where people do less walking, such as North and South Dakota, the numbers were lower. The National Transportation Safety Board is taking a closer look at the situation with an investigation of causes and potential solutions.

Accidents that are not fatal may still be devastating, and pedestrians might be more vulnerable than people in vehicles to serious injury because they are not protected by a vehicle. These serious injuries could include head trauma, broken bones or neck injuries. If the driver of the vehicle is at fault in the accident, the pedestrian might think that insurance will cover the costs of medical expenses. However, an insurance company might offer low compensation, and if this happens, the injured person might want to consult an attorney.

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