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SUV design and smartphones blamed for rising pedestrian deaths

Walking across a street in Minnesota has become more dangerous. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has reported that fatal pedestrian accidents involving SUVs have spiked by 81 percent over the past 10 years. IIHS researchers noted that the increasing number of SUVs on the road and their designs could at least partially explain the surge in pedestrian deaths.

The IIHS president said that the high front ends and vertical design of SUVs hit people on foot more completely than passenger cars. People cannot roll off vehicles and potentially limit their injuries. At the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the widespread use of smartphones by both drivers and pedestrians has come under scrutiny. The agency estimates that about 10 percent of all traffic deaths now arise from distracted driving. Other safety advocates have placed blame on recreational marijuana and malfunctioning traffic signals.

To reduce deaths and injuries, some cities have increased enforcement at deadly intersections or redesigned crosswalks that were presenting hazards to pedestrians. In addition, automakers have introduced forward collision warning systems on more vehicle models. Some systems include automatic braking systems that stop vehicles if drivers do not respond to warnings. Taken together, these efforts might reverse the deadly trend for pedestrians.

In the meantime, pedestrians will still face risks from reckless drivers. A person hit while walking might experience serious injuries that could reduce the ability to earn income. An attorney familiar with litigating pedestrian accidents might help the plaintiff collect evidence about the accident and file a lawsuit. Legal counsel could recognize attempts by an insurer to limit a settlement.

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