The number of pedestrian deaths has increased more than 50% over the past decade. There were 10 pedestrian fatalities in Westchester, Rockland & Putnam Counties in 2019. Pedestrian fatalities involving motor vehicles throughout the United States steadily declined from 1979-2009 when the death toll dipped from 8,096 to 4109, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The number has since skyrocketed 53% according to the Institute, a Virginia based non-profit dedicated to traffic safety.

According to an article on the front page of The Journal News on January 14, 2020 entitled “Pedestrian deaths spur focus on safety” by Matt Spillane, several factors contribute to these accidents and experts agree the rise in SUV’s have played a significant role in fatality increases over the past decade. Pedestrian deaths involved SUV’s jumped 81%, a bigger bump than any other vehicle. Dan Gelinne, a senior research associate with the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center said “we’re seeing fewer sedans on the road and more SUV’s and larger passenger vehicles and the way in which those impact a pedestrian’s body, they make more likely that a person will be severely injured or killed in the crash”. The high front ends of SUV’s are more likely to cause injury to a pedestrian’s chest and head. More pedestrian fatalities also seem to occur on arterial roads that are typically wide with many lanes of traffic and surrounded by commercial strips and businesses. These are found in suburban areas where residential activity has grown around roads that were mainly designed for drivers not pedestrians.

The article points out that the nation’s obsession with smart phones could be adding to roadway dangers said Retting, who authorized a pedestrian traffic fatality report for the Governors Highway Safety Association in 2018. He noted the rise in pedestrian death parallels the boom in smart phone users. Other factors have been consistent contributors to pedestrian deaths. In 2017, 80% of pedestrian fatalities took place in urban areas and 75% occurred when it was dark outside. Only 18% of deaths were at intersections.

In its 2017 report, the NHTSA said the average age of pedestrians killed increased from 45 to 47 years old or older. Alcohol for the driver or the pedestrian was reported in 47% of pedestrian deaths in 2017. The NHTSA estimated 32% of pedestrian fatalities involved a pedestrian with a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher and 17% of those deaths involve a driver who had a BAC of at least .08%, the legal threshold for drunken driving, only 19% were hit and runs according to NHTSA.

While the nation has seen a rise in pedestrian fatalities, New York’s numbers have been fairly consistent. From 2014 to 2018, there was an average of 286 pedestrians killed each year in the State. According to the Traffic Safety Institute, the top three contributing factors to pedestrian crashes in 2018 were failure to yield the right of way, driver’s inattention or distractions and pedestrian error or confusion.

There were at least 10 fatal pedestrian crashes in the Lower Hudson Valley in 2019. These were in Peekskill, Stony Point, Carmel, Greenburgh, Philipstown, White Plains, Clarkstown, Yonkers, Port Chester and Ramapo. To prevent them, experts said municipalities and government agencies can help pedestrians by addressing things like crosswalks and sidewalks and car manufacturers can work on improving things like headlights to boost driver’s vision in the dark. Adequate street lights have proven to reduce pedestrian crashes by 50%. Refuge islands built in the middle of roads have been effective at helping pedestrians cross wide streets with several lanes of traffic.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a fatal pedestrian auto accident, contact the law firm of Dominick J. Robustelli & Associates, PLLC at (914) 288-0800 or on the web at


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