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Fox Farley Willis & Burnette Attorneys At Law
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2020 Was A Down Year For Traffic- But A Big Year For Pedestrian Accidents


Last year, in 2020, many of us were completely locked down, and even when the lockdown ended, many of us remained working from home. That certainly led to less traffic, and thus, fewer pedestrian deaths. Or at least, it would seem that way. Unfortunately, statistics from 2020 don’t bear that out.

Pedestrian on Car Accidents Were Up

In fact, pedestrian accidents and deaths were up in 2020, and up by a large margin. Last year, with a 5% increase from the year prior, represented the greatest ever increase from one year to the next in pedestrian accidents and deaths. But that 5% is misleading. If you account for the reduction of vehicles on the road, the fatality rate per mile travelled actually represented an enormous 21% increase from 2019-2020.

The study found that most pedestrians were killed while walking in the dark, and while walking on local or “arterial” roads, the kind that lead to stores and commerce—exactly where most people were going during the lockdown. It also indicated that more pedestrians were hit who were not in intersections, where marked crosswalks and walking signals for pedestrians are often present.

Many States Saw Big Increases

California, Texas and Florida had the highest number of pedestrian deaths. Kansas and Vermont were projected to have the highest percentage change in pedestrian deaths, from 2019-2020. Tennessee’s pedestrian accidents went up 16%, which puts the state at about the middle of the pack nationally.

Why the Increases?

Some news outlets called the 2020 increase in pedestrian accidents “mind-boggling.” There are a number of theories on why this was the case, despite there being far fewer cars on the road.

Careless and Intoxicated Driving – Some believe that with lockdowns came less to do, and thus, more drinking—particularly drinking at home. Without the ability to have friends drive them, people at home who may have needed to run out for an errand were probably more likely to get behind the wheel while intoxicated.

Speeding – With fewer cars comes the feeling that drivers are on the “wide open road,” and thus, drivers may pay less attention to the road around them and may drive faster. They may speed through intersections or just focus on distractions in their cars.

More Pedestrians – Of course, with lockdowns, and people out of work, came more people actually walking for leisure (or just to have something to do during the lockdowns). This means more targets for careless drivers.

SUVs – Some studies indicate that SUVs cause more damage to pedestrians than non-SUV vehicles, although most studies that show this have been smaller studies. Bigger cars throw pedestrians farther, leading to more severe impact injuries—and also, potentially, throwing them into the line of other lanes of traffic.

Call the Tennessee personal injury attorneys at Fox Willis Burnette, PLLC, today for help if you are injured for any reason, whether in a  car, or as a pedestrian or bicyclist.


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