In New Jersey, auto accidents are a common cause of untimely injuries and death. Among the most vulnerable segment of the population are pedestrians and bicyclists. Those who are not protected by a vehicle and have an accident are prone to suffering catastrophic injuries and death. Even if the person is fortunate enough to survive, there can be expensive medical treatment, challenges returning to their former selves and the financial and personal ramifications that go along with that. Families who have endured a road fatality will need to address various personal and financial issues as they strive to move forward. Being aware of the trends is one step. Legislators and law enforcement taking steps to address it is still another. The brings about the question of how risky the roads are and what might be done to enhance safety.
Pedestrian deaths are on the rise
According to recent research, the roads are becoming worse for pedestrians. Much of the problem is blamed on growing recklessness on the part of drivers. There are several reasons cited for this including excessive use of alcohol, changes to how society functions and people feeling anxious. In 2021, New Jersey suffered the most pedestrian deaths in more than three decades. It was not alone among states in seeking this troubling spike. From East to West, this was evident.
Making this more concerning is that traffic experts were under the assumption that the national challenges that led to more people working from home and fewer people on the road would lower the number of collisions. Instead, the opposite was true with a 21% spike in pedestrian deaths in 2020 alone. That year, there were more than 6,700 such deaths – a 5% rise from 2019. In 2021, there were similar increases.
It is believed that speed is a fundamental factor in the number of pedestrian deaths. Drivers have emptier roadways and less law enforcement vigilance to worry about. This is letting them flout the speed limits. Road rage is also viewed as a problem. In addition, vehicle advancements with safety features might have given drivers a false sense of security. Those in the vehicles tend to be safer, but this does not extend to pedestrians.
The Garden State is spending significantly to improve the landscape for pedestrians and bicyclists. For pedestrians, there will be $8.6 million for the Safe Streets to Transit Program (SSTT). This provides financing for sidewalk improvement and crosswalks in the areas where public transportation stations are located. Bicyclists are also part of the focus with nearly $6 million in grants to the Bikeway Grant Program.
Victims of pedestrian and bicycle accidents must be aware of their options
It is undeniably positive that there is attention being given to pedestrian and bicyclist safety. Research is being done, the statistical increase in deaths is assessed and there are steps being taken to help with avoiding accidents. Despite that, the issue persists and people are still being hit by automobiles and suffering the consequences. With these types of incidents, it is imperative to get sufficient treatment as soon as possible. In the aftermath, it is also wise to understand the alternatives to recover for what happened. Evidence should be gathered to determine the cause and the costs involved must be calculated. It is important to have immediate guidance to determine how to move forward. Those who have a history of assessing these situations can be helpful in deciding what steps to take.