The good news? Car accident fatalities are on the decline.
The bad news? People who like to walk are in more danger than ever before. The latest statistics show more Connecticut pedestrians are dying in fatal accidents.
Pedestrian fatalities in Connecticut jumped an alarming 20% from 2017 to 2018. Deaths increased from 49% in 2017 to 61% in 2018, part of a six-year trend of increasing fatalities. The numbers are from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The agency reported pedestrian deaths rose 3.4% nationwide. The 6,283 deaths in 2018 were the most since 1990.
Motor vehicle deaths represent a contrast. NHTSA says 2018 saw a decline in those fatalities nationwide. Deaths dropped by 913, from 27,473 in 2017 to 36,560 in 2018. Officials credit passenger safety improvements and collision prevention systems.
Officials are uncertain what is behind the disturbing numbers in Connecticut. They cite some of the usual reasons, such as speeding and impaired motorists. They also note some fatalities involve stolen cars or occur at night, when visibility is poor.
One obvious factor is the distraction caused by personal technology, smartphones in particular. It is illegal in Connecticut to text or talk on a handheld cell phone while driving. However, this is not a one-way problem.
Distracted pedestrians are part of the problem, too, according to officials. People walking while on phones can be so engaged with their devices that they do not notice the traffic around them until it is too late. If they are wearing headphones, they may not hear an approaching vehicle.
Pedestrian injuries, by their nature, are serious. Walkers have no protection when in an accident. When it comes to a vehicle-pedestrian accident, the damage can sometimes be equivalent to a crash when one party was in a tank. While on the street, pedestrians should always stay aware of the cars on the road, but they also have the right to expect motorists to pay attention to them.