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Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrian Accidents

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Pedestrian Deaths Surge in Texas

Texas pedestrian deaths surged 15 percent from 2020 – 2021 and were up again in 2022, new data shows.

With pedestrian fatalities rising nationwide, the issue is not limited to Texas. But the Lone Star State has a walkability problem. In a state built around the personal automobile, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio rank near the bottom of the most walkable U.S. cities.

Pedestrians lack protection and are among the most vulnerable road users. It is estimated that pedestrian deaths now account for 1 in 5 Texas traffic fatalities. Even when pedestrian accidents aren’t fatal, they can cause serious, life-changing injuries.

National Pedestrian Deaths Reach 40-Year High

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released a new report showing that U.S. roadways are extremely dangerous places for pedestrians.

According to GHSA, at least 7,508 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in 2022, continuing an upward trend in recent years and representing the most pedestrian deaths since 1981.

From 2010 – 2021, pedestrian deaths went up 16% while all other traffic fatalities increased 10%. More alarming, says GHSA, since 2010 pedestrian fatalities have increased 77%, compared to a 25% increase in other traffic fatalities.

Texas Pedestrian Deaths Trending the Wrong Way

Texas pedestrian deaths have been trending the wrong way as well. Texas had 5,370 crashes involving pedestrians in 2021, resulting in 843 deaths and 1,467 serious injuries, reports the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).

Year-over-year, Texas pedestrian deaths increased 15% from 2020 to 2021, and they’re up from 661 in 2019. Only California had more pedestrian fatalities than Texas in 2022.

Texas also grades out poorly in terms of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 residents. It has a higher pedestrian death rate than the national average and in 2022 had the ninth highest rate (2.85 deaths per 100,000) in the GHSA analysis. And Texas ranked 12th when measuring the year-to-year difference in the total number of fatalities.

Texas Cities Rank Poorly For Walkability

Walkability is an urban planning concept that measures how friendly an area is for pedestrians.

Walk Score, an online company that ranks the walkability of national and international cities, identifies seven factors that make a neighborhood walkable, including having a center, parks, and public spaces; proximity between residences, schools, and workplaces; and streets that are specifically designed for pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transport.

Texas cities do not fare well on Walk Score’s U.S. rankings. At the top of the list are San Francisco, New York, and Boston, which have respective scores of 89, 88, and 83. By comparison, Dallas has a walk score of 46, while Houston scores 47.5 and San Antonio 36.9.

While these Texas cities have some walkable areas, large portions of them are generally unsafe for walking, especially outside of their historical cores.

Since the end of World War II, Texas cities have sprawled outward as their populations have exploded. Texas is the fastest-growing state in the country, and most of this growth is concentrated in the suburbs and exurbs (?), where transportation revolves around the motor vehicle. To travel into nearby cities like Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, suburban dwellers must take roads and highways, which hurts walkability.

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Most Dangerous Texas Roadways for Pedestrians

Walking on Texas highways can amount to a suicide mission. More than one-third of the state’s pedestrian fatalities between 2016 and 2020 occurred on interstates and highways, according to a Value Penguin study.

  • The deadliest road was I-45 in Houston, with 58 fatalities over the study period. Houston’s I-10, I-610, FM-1093, I-69, and SR-8 also made the list of the most dangerous Texas roads for walking.
  • In Dallas, the highest number of pedestrian fatalities were found along Loop 12, I-35, I-635, I-30, and I-20.
  • San Antonio sections of I-410, I-35, and I-10, as well as San Pedro Avenue and Culebra Road, were particularly deadly for pedestrians.

Interstates and highways are extreme examples of what makes certain roads risky to pedestrians. They have large traffic volumes traveling at high speeds and no defined pedestrian walkways. However, many local city streets have similar issues, including the following:

  • San Antonio:
    • San Pedro Avenue
    • Culebra Road
    • Old Highway 90
    • Zarzamora Street
    • Nacogdoches Road
    • Commerce Street
  • Dallas:
    • Camp Wisdom Road
    • Forest Lane
    • Lake June Road
    • Webb Chapel Road
  • Houston:
    • Bellaire Boulevard
    • Tidwell Road
    • Telephone Road
    • Bissonnet Street
    • Airline Drive
    • Beechnut Street

Dallas was the third-worst Texas city for pedestrian fatalities from 2016 to 2020, Value Penguin found. San Antonio ranked 7th and Houston was 12th.

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Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

What’s behind the recent surge in pedestrian fatalities, both in Texas and nationwide, may depend on who you ask.

A newer line of thinking sees pedestrian deaths as part of wider structural issues with how we build communities. For example, extrapolating from the GHSA study, Streetsblog blames a lack of sidewalks, dangerous roads in neighborhoods, “structural racism,” and the proliferation of SUVs and pickup trucks on the road.

  • In addition to roadway factors like whether a sidewalk was present, intersections, and the type of road where a pedestrian crash occurred, GHSA points to speeding, alcohol impairment, and light condition as pedestrian crash causation factors.
  • TxDOT says the top factors contributing to pedestrian crashes are failure to yield right-of-way, driver inattention, and speeding.

Texas launched a pedestrian safety campaign that provides tips to keep walkers safe. They include only crossing the street at intersections or crosswalks, obeying all traffic signals, avoiding distractions, and walking against traffic if there is not a sidewalk available.

Pedestrians are extremely vulnerable because they typically wear no protective gear. The initial vehicle impact and subsequent ground impact commonly result in trauma to the head and neck (including  traumatic brain injuries), legs, pelvis, and spine.

A 2004 study estimated that pedestrian injury cases average $135,500 in losses. This figure covers pain, suffering, and lost quality of life; medical costs; and lost productivity.

  • Accounting for inflation, these costs would be closer to $220,000 – $230,000 today.
  • Fatal pedestrian injuries, moreover, had costs exceeding $4.5 million per case (adjusted for inflation).

Texas requires drivers to carry liability insurance that provides a minimum of $30,000 for injuries per person and up to $60,000 per accident. These amounts could fall well short of full compensation for a pedestrian injured by a negligent motor vehicle driver.

Talk to a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer

Texas is trying to become more pedestrian-friendly through projects like Vision Zero that emphasize walkable communities. But progress has been slow in our car-dependent state. Year after year, Texas is seeing its roads become less friendly to pedestrians—not more.

There’s no such thing as a “fender bender” when a car hits a pedestrian. Injuries can be debilitating, and insurance coverage may be inadequate to fully compensate people hit by cars.

If you or someone in your family was struck by a vehicle while walking in Dallas, Houston, or San Antonio, our pedestrian accident lawyers can provide a free consultation to discuss your legal options.

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