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Pedestrian deaths rise significantly in 2016

Pedestrian deaths rose across the nation, and Illinois was no exception. In fact, according to NPR, pedestrian fatalities spiked 11 percent in the past year, which is the largest year-over-year increase ever. Traffic fatalities rose in the past year as well, a 6 percent jump, which means that while more crashes have become deadly, pedestrian deaths have grown faster than expected.

There are several contributing factors to the rise of fatalities for pedestrians. First, lower prices at the pump and a strong economy mean that more people are behind the wheel. Yet many believe that distraction has much to do with the fatal spike being seen this year. Not only are drivers often distracted, so are the pedestrians at risk. Cell phone usage by both drivers and walkers is believed to be a large contributor to the 2016 numbers.

High speeds also make a huge difference in when a traffic accident involving a pedestrian turns deadly. The likelihood of a person dying when struck by a car going 40 miles per hour is 80 percent, but if the speed is reduced to 20 miles per hour, that person only has a 10 percent chance of death. With this in mind, New York City and several other cities around the nation have lowered their speed limits.

DNA Info reports that Chicago saw a 26 percent rise in pedestrian deaths last year. This massive increase has the Chicago Department of Transportation looking for solutions. The neighborhoods where the fatalities have outpaced the population will have focused efforts to reduce the danger. An action plan is currently being developed to redesign areas where crashes have become a problem. 

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