24
Mar 2014
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Providence Has Highest Number of Pedestrian Deaths in Rhode Island

Providence has consistently been the area in Rhode Island with the highest number of pedestrian fatalities. From 2005 to 2012, there were 18 pedestrian deaths in Providence, RI compared with  eight in Cranston and Warwick, and six in Woonsocket. 

Pedestrian fatalities are also a problem nationwide. Although walkers and bikers account for just 12 percent of trips, they account for 14 percent of fatalities. The pedestrian death toll has climbed significantly in recent years, with a 15 percent increase in the number of pedestrian deaths since 2009. An 8.7 percent decline in the number of fatalities among pedestrians in the first half of 2013 is not enough to reduce the rising death toll. Experts believe that this decline may have been caused by fewer people walking since the economy has improved and more people can now afford to drive.

Walking and bicycling are good for people and good for the environment and there is a direct link between walking and the obesity rate.  A 2012 report indicated that every $1.00 invested in improving conditions for  bikers and walkers could yield as much as $11.80 in benefits. Yet, just 1.6 percent of federal transportation dollars are devoted to the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians.

Clearly, there is a problem with how money is allocated and with how pedestrian safety is prioritized in the United States. A serious effort must be made to change that, and half-measures are not enough.

Pedestrians who are injured in accidents should understand their legal rights, and can obtain damages from drivers who cause their collisions or from other responsible parties. A Providence accident lawyer can represent victims injured in collisions.

Federal Laws Should go Farther at Helping Reduce Fatalities 

Federal lawmakers are making at least some effort to try to make conditions better for bicyclists. The Safe Streets Act of 2014 has been proposed in Congress. The Act would require that states and municipalities create an official agency policy statement within the next two years that takes the needs of all road users into account for transportation projects receiving federal transportation funds.

There are currently 238 different jurisdictions in the U.S. that have voluntarily adopted Complete Street policies. The policies must address how roads and transportation projects can work for everyone, including kids, the elderly, pedestrians, bike riders, public transportation, freight trucks and cars. The Safe Streets Act would require that all states and jurisdictions use the Complete Streets framework for almost all projects involving federal funding. The U.S. Department of Transportation is directed by the law to establish guidelines to make sure that states comply.

While this law sounds good, it is not enough to make a difference in keeping pedestrians safe. First, it gives states two years just to come up with policies to consider the needs of all citizens on its roads. Second, it does not force specific positive changes to existing infrastructure that would help to make the roads safer.  Pedestrians deserve real solutions that make improving conditions for walkers a true priority, and that means taking action now to improve existing infrastructure and educate the public about pedestrian collision risks.

Contact a Providence accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl at 508-677-4900 to schedule your free consultation.

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