Professional road cyclist On a Training Ride in Charleston South Carolina as the sun comes up

Federal statistics show that while automobile accident fatalities have declined, fatalities among pedestrians as well as cyclists continued to rise.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s latest projections for traffic fatalities in 2022 estimate that 31,785 people died in traffic crashes in the first nine months of the year. This is a slight decrease as compared to the 31,850 estimated fatalities during the same time in 2021.

While fatalities overall declined, the NHTSA report covering the first six months of 2022 showed a concerning increase in cyclist and pedestrian deaths.  As compared to the first half of 2021, fatalities increased:

  • 8% among cyclists
  • 5% among motorcyclists
  • 2% among pedestrians.
  • 12% on rural interstates
  • 10% in crashes involving at least one large truck

Cyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists are considered vulnerable road users. They lack the protection that occupants of cars and trucks have and are more likely to suffer serious injuries or fatal injuries if struck by other vehicles, especially commercial vehicles like 18-wheelers.

“Fatalities have not increased for two quarters now, but we have far more work to do to save lives and address the crisis on our nation’s roadways,” NHTSA Acting Administrator Ann Carlson said in a news release announcing the reports.

“We urge everyone to do their part by driving safely and watching out for others on the road, especially vulnerable road users like pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists,” Carlson said.

South Carolina Ranks High for Pedestrian Deaths

South Carolina is particularly dangerous for pedestrians. Pedestrian death rates here are 60% higher than the national average.

A report from Car Insurance Comparison, which analyzed data from NHTSA and the U.S. Census Bureau, ranked South Carolina as the fourth most deadly state for pedestrians.

This report says South Carolina had 160 pedestrian deaths in 2019 for a death rate of 3.11 pedestrians killed per 100,000 residents. New Mexico had the highest pedestrian fatality rate in America, with 83 deaths equaling 3.96 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 residents.

Why Are There So Many Pedestrian Deaths in South Carolina?

There are many reasons why South Carolina ranks so high for pedestrian deaths, including poor roads and lack of sidewalks.

South Carolina’s bad roads contribute to the pedestrian accident problem, the Car Insurance Comparison report says. “These can lead to traffic accidents with pedestrians when drivers try to veer away from damaged pavement or hit something that causes them to lose control of their vehicle.”

What Is the South Carolina Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Action Plan?

Fortunately, South Carolina Department of Transportation is seeking to adopt strategies that improve traffic safety and prevent pedestrian and cyclist deaths, since pedestrians and bicyclists are disproportionately represented in fatal crashes. Pedestrian and cyclist deaths comprised more than 20% of all highway fatalities in South Carolina in 2019, despite contributing to less than 1% percent of all crashes. From 2009 to 2019, pedestrian fatalities increased by 80%, and bicycle fatalities increased by 155%.

To respond to the problem, the SCDOT has produced its Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Action Plan, which provides a framework for focusing statewide attention on improving conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists.

The plan is intended to help transportation planners and local partners decide where to focus investments in pedestrian and bicycle safety, the report says. Its vision is to use a data-driven approach to align safety programs and infrastructure improvements with demonstrated issues.

The report identifies a series of measures that SCDOT and other agencies can implement to prevent pedestrian and bicyclist deaths within three areas:

  • Engineering measures, such as signage or pavement markings to facilitate safer pedestrian crossings, designated bicycle lanes, and design improvements at intersections and along roadways.
  • Education measures to make motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists — including school-age children — more aware of better safety practices. This could include a review of current laws related to walking and biking and programs to promote safe behaviors for all road users.
  • Enforcement countermeasures, including efforts to enforce speed limits, yielding and passing laws, and compliance with traffic signs. Law enforcement can also play a major role in engaging the community to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety, the report says.

Experience Helping Families After a Pedestrian or Cyclist Accident

Our auto accidents attorneys are all too familiar with South Carolina’s flippant attitude toward pedestrians and cyclists.  Over the years, we’ve represented individuals and families whose lives were turned upside down by a driver’s negligence.

Sadly, people who are injured as pedestrians or cyclists face many obstacles in seeking compensation. That is often because of a bias that exists against pedestrians and cyclists in car accident claims.  Many times, the insurance company will try to blame the pedestrian or the cyclist for their own accident.

In pedestrian death cases, as well as cyclist death cases, the victim isn’t with us to share their story. In these cases, it is especially important to have an attorney on your side.  An experienced auto accident attorney will investigate all aspects of the accident to prove what really happened.

That’s what we were able to do for the family of a North Charleston woman who was hit and killed while walking to work.  After the impact, our client was immediately incapacitated and later died from her injuries.  Without her account, the driver was initially able to place at least some of the blame on our client.  However, Joye Law Firm went to work to collect evidence, interview witnesses and recreate the accident scene to prove what really happened.  We were able to secure a five-million-dollar settlement for her family.

Read more about that tragic pedestrian death case here.

Get in Touch with Our Experienced South Carolina Car Accident Attorneys

After a motor vehicle accident, get the South Carolina car accident lawyers s at Joye Law Firm on your side. If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian, bicycle, or motorcycle accident in South Carolina, we can help you understand your legal options free of charge. If someone else was at fault for the accident, you may be entitled to demand financial compensation for your medical costs and the full extent of your additional damages.

Contact us online or at 888-324-3100 today for a free, no-obligation initial consultation. We have offices in CharlestonColumbiaClintonSummerville, and Myrtle Beach and take cases from across South Carolina.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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