Federal lawmakers have introduced the Safe Streets Act of 2014 into the United States Senate. The goal is to reduce the number of pedestrian accident fatalities occurring across the country.
Pedestrian deaths have become a serious problem. From 2009 to 2012, there was an average 4.9 percent increase in pedestrian motor-vehicle deaths each year. The result is that deaths went up around 15 percent even as the overall number of traffic fatalities in other categories declined by three percent. The Safe Streets Act could improve conditions and bring this death toll down, but unfortunately it is unlikely to make any kind of real difference.
Those who are injured or killed in pedestrian collisions have rights. Boston pedestrian accident lawyers can help victims to pursue a claim for damages.
Much More Needs to be Done for Pedestrians
The Safe Streets Act stipulates that states and local municipal organizations have to develop Complete Streets policies and employ these principles on federally-funded transportation projects. There are 238 local jurisdictions in the United States that currently use Complete Streets principles. The principles simply require that all phases of transportation projects take all road users into account. Roads must be designed not just for vehicles but also for pedestrians, public transportation users, kids, the elderly and bicyclists.
The Safe Streets Act of 2014 would mandate that the Federal Department of Transportation establish methods of evaluating whether states and municipal organizations have lived up to their obligations.
Unfortunately, states and the DOT are given two years just to come up with policies and actually start considering all road users. The law also carves out exceptions when the Complete Street Principles would not be required. How many more lives would be lost over the next two years as transportation projects continue that fail to actually meet the needs of walkers?
It is clear that there is far too little being done right now to make pedestrians safe. While walkers and bicyclists account for 12 percent of trips, only 1.6 percent of federal transportation dollars are currently devoted to their needs. The Safe Streets Act of 2014 won’t fix this problem.
Experts aren’t sure why the pedestrian accident death toll rose so much in recent years. While there was a decline of 8.7 percent in the number of fatalities that occurred in the first half of 2013, experts also don’t know why this happened either, and the decline wasn’t enough to offset the increase.
If transportation experts don’t know what is working, and what isn’t, how can they make laws that actually make a difference in reducing the death toll?
Serious concrete steps should be taken to improve road safety. One analysis, for example, suggested reducing speed limits and increasing the use of cameras to enforce the limits. While a pedestrian hit by a car going 20 miles per hour only has an estimated five percent chance of dying, a pedestrian hit by a car going 40 miles per hour has between an 83 and 85 percent chance of losing his life.
A 2012 benchmark study suggested that for every $1.00 that was spent to improve conditions for bikers and walkers, $11.80 in benefits could be realized. Doing much more for pedestrians will save lives and is a good investment.
If you were involved in a Boston car accident, contact Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (617) 777-7777.
More Blog Entries:
Distractions Endangering Teen Drivers More Than Older Motorists, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, January 25, 2014