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A spike in pedestrian deaths: Should changes be made?

A nationwide surge in pedestrian deaths has safety officials concerned. From 2009 to 2016, the number of pedestrians killed in auto accidents jumped 46 percent. Now the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is calling for increased safety measures.

Will higher safety standards lower pedestrian deaths?

The NTSB is asking for national and federal safety administrations such as the Federal Highway Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to establish new rules. The board is recommending the following increased safety measures in vehicles to reduce pedestrian fatalities:

  • Better headlight standards
  • Improved breaking systems
  • Pedestrian-detection systems
  • Softer bumpers

The NTSB is also pushing for the Federal Highway Administration to increase support for state and local authorities to create pedestrian safety plans. Alaskan engineers and road managers would better understand how to enact improved highway pedestrian safety designs than federal workers. This would be beneficial for local joggers, cyclists and walking pedestrians since there were 14 pedestrian deaths in Alaska last year.

The director of the NTSB also calls for increasing available sidewalks and medians nationwide where pedestrians cannot safety travel. Additionally, he recommends:

  • Better nighttime lighting on streets
  • Automatic speed enforcement
  • Public education regarding pedestrian safety

Why are pedestrian fatalities increasing?

There are no direct links as to why pedestrian deaths are rising nationwide, however, some researchers have suggestions. Some say an improving economy means more pedestrians are outside shopping and going places, placing a higher amount of people at risk. Other researchers believe that an increase in distracted driving is leading to more pedestrian accidents.

Statistics show that millions of drivers use their phones every day. Drivers are more often seen scrolling through social media, swiping on dating apps and texting. While Alaska does not have a ban on making phone calls while driving, our state does have strict texting and driving penalties. A fine of up to $10,000 for texting and driving is a persuasive method to keep driver's eyes on the road.

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