Texas Law and News Blog

Texas is Among the Most Dangerous States For Pedestrian Accidents

dont walk signAbout 13 pedestrians are killed by motor vehicles every day, and a disproportionate number of those fatalities occur in Texas. According to a 2017 report from Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition, Houston is the 15th-most-dangerous metro area in America for pedestrians. Texas as a whole comes in even higher, at number 9 among U.S. states. The same report indicates that both the Houston metropolitan area and the state of Texas were more dangerous for pedestrians in 2016 than they were in 2014.

In 2015, that translated to 558 Texas pedestrians killed in traffic, or about 15% of all traffic fatalities in the state.

Risk Factors for Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities

Pedestrians are killed in traffic in a variety of settings and under a wide range of circumstances. However, certain factors are common to a high percentage of pedestrian fatalities. For instance:

• Pedestrian traffic fatalities are more than three times as likely to occur in urban areas versus rural areas
• Pedestrians are three times as likely to be killed by a motor vehicle in the dark as they are during daylight hours
• More than 70% of fatal pedestrian accidents occur at non-intersection locations
Certain groups of people are at greater risk, as well. For example:
• Nearly 1/5 of children aged 14 and younger who are killed in traffic accidents are pedestrians
• 20% of pedestrians killed are aged 65 and older
• More than 46% of pedestrians killed in traffic are non-white, though these minority groups make up less than 35% of the population
• Pedestrian fatalities are more likely in lower-income areas
• Higher vehicle speeds increase both the risk of striking a pedestrian and the likelihood of death

Types of Fatal Pedestrian Accidents

More than 85% of pedestrians killed in traffic were struck by the front of the vehicle. Large trucks and buses are far more likely than cars and light trucks to strike a pedestrian on the left side, right side, or rear of the vehicle.

Causes of Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities

Alcohol-Related Pedestrian Fatalities

It comes as no surprise that alcohol plays a role in a significant number of pedestrian fatalities. We’ve all heard news stories about pedestrians, often young people, hit by drunk drivers. What may come as a surprise is that in accidents resulting in pedestrian fatalities, the pedestrian is more than twice as likely to be intoxicated as the driver. Between 2005 and 2014, 34% of pedestrians killed in traffic crashes were legally intoxicated, compared with 14% of drivers. About half of fatally-injured pedestrians between the ages of 21 and 44 had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of .08% or higher.

Distracted Driving and Pedestrian Fatalities

In 2016, the number of pedestrian fatalities nationwide reached a 20-year high, approaching 6,000 deaths. Although research is still underway, some experts are attributing the rise—at least in part—to the increase in distracted driving. Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) reported that the number of pedestrians killed by distracted drivers increased by nearly 50% between 2005 and 2010. Since 2010, the prevalence of behaviors such as texting and driving has continued to increase.

Some additional factors believed to be impacting the number of pedestrians killed in traffic include:

• An increase in walking, as Americans become both more health conscious and more environmentally conscious
• An increase in miles driven as gas prices have declined in the past few years
• Poor design and maintenance of urban streets and intersections

Liability for Pedestrian Injuries and Fatalities

There are several hit and run accident laws in Texas to protect pedestrians from negligent drivers. In some cases, other parties may share responsibility. Some examples include the liability of  a non-driver owner of the vehicle that struck the pedestrian or the liability of a bar owner that over-served the driver. Thus, if you have been the victim of a pedestrian accident, you may wish to seek legal advice to determine your right.

-By: Rebecca Todd.