A number of recent crashes and other incidents that have caused injuries to pedestrians should remind Spokane-area residents—both drivers and walkers—to be cautious when travelling throughout the area.
In early May, a Valleyford woman was struck by a pickup while out walking her dog. The driver lost control, crossed the road, and struck the woman from behind. Fortunately, her injuries were not life threatening.
More recently, in a strange case still under investigation, a pedestrian reportedly climbed onto the outside of a semi-truck’s cab while it was stopped at an intersection. Reports are not clear, but the man apparently then fell from the truck and may also have been struck by it. The man was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.
In perhaps the most high-profile pedestrian crash in some time, late last month a driver knocked down a traffic-light pole, struck a pedestrian, and continued on to crash into a building at the intersection of North Hamilton and East Illinois. The site is home to Donut Parade, a struggling local institution which suffered damage but intended to continue in business. The pedestrian was taken to the hospital, but the injuries were not considered life threatening. Police noted at the time that it appeared the driver had fallen asleep at the wheel.
None of these cases resulted in a pedestrian’s death, but that’s a lucky coincidence. At least three Spokane-area pedestrians have died this year after being struck by vehicles, including a girl in Mead this past March and a woman in North Spokane in June. While Washington State is still below the national average fatality rate, we saw forty-nine pedestrian deaths in 2014, a 28 percent spike over the previous year.
Pedestrian crashes are all too common, and they appear to be on the rise. Preliminary 2015 data reported in May indicates that pedestrian deaths might have jumped as much as 10 percent over a one-year period. In fact, pedestrian deaths now account for 15 percent of all traffic fatalities, the highest proportion in a quarter century. Average annual traffic fatalities have declined by more than 20 percent over the past ten years, but the number for pedestrians has hardly budged.
Although the total amount of pedestrian fatalities is worrisome, the proportional increase can, at least in part, be attributed to a reason you might not expect: improved passenger vehicle safety. As seat belt use has risen and safety features such as airbags have become standard, a smaller proportion of vehicle occupants are dying in what were once likely to be fatal crashes. On the other hand, little or nothing has been done to improve the safety of those struck by vehicles—a situation that is finally starting to change, as American regulators begin to follow the lead of their international counterparts by including pedestrian protection features in auto safety requirements.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a pedestrian in a motor vehicle crash, an important step in the recovery process is to find an attorney who understands pedestrian accident law and can put that experience to work for you. Give Craig Swapp & Associates a call for a free consultation to discuss your case and to learn what we can do for you. Call us at 1-800-404-9000 or contact us online to schedule an appointment. For quick answers to some of your questions, you can also activate the LiveChat feature of this site from any page.