How safe are pedestrians in Kentucky?

Kentucky has experienced a jump in overall traffic fatalities and an increase in pedestrian deaths. Distracted driving may be a factor.

As spring gets underway, it is understandable that more people in Kentucky may be eager to get out and about. Whether walking or running for exercise or simply walking across a parking lot, people may find themselves on foot and sharing space with vehicles. The danger inherent in this is real and appears to be growing not just in Kentucky but around the nation.

Kentucky's traffic and pedestrian fatality realities

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows a jump in the number of people killed in all vehicle accidents as well as the number of pedestrians killed between 2011 and 2015 in Kentucky.

In 2011, there were 720 total vehicular fatalities. That rose the next year to 746 and dropped to 638 in 2013. The subsequent two years saw continued increases first to 672 and then to 761 in 2015.

In looking at pedestrian fatalities alone, we see that 50 people on foot were killed in Kentucky in 2011 and 49 in 2012. From there, three successive yearly increases are noticed first to 55 then to 57 and finally to 67 in 2015.

America's traffic and pedestrian realities

The Lexington Herald Leader recently reported traffic fatality information from the Governors Highway Safety Association. The data indicates that while overall crash fatalities increased by six percent nationally from 2010 to 2015, pedestrian fatalities increased 25 percent. In 2016, the number of pedestrians killed in America was close to 6,000.

While a strengthening economy and increased awareness of the benefits of physical activity may have boosted the number of pedestrians on the streets, it is technology that many experts consider the biggest culprit in the rise of pedestrian fatalities.

The danger of distracted driving

The NHTSA explains that in 2015 alone, 391,000 injuries were attributed to some form of distracted driving. Another 3,477 deaths are said to have been caused by driver distraction .

The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety notes that the state permit adults to manually look up or dial phone numbers even while driving. It also allows them to use electronic mapping systems while behind the wheel. Only texting is explicitly banned while driving for those 18 and older.

Carnegie Mellon research shows that a driver's ability to focus on driving while using a phone is reduced by 37 percent. Distractions do not have to involve phones as anything that takes a person's mind, hands or eyes away from the act of driving could be dangerous.

After an accident occurs, Kentucky residents should contact an attorney. This is the best way for them to learn about their rights and how to keep those rights protected.