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Speed, Not Vehicle Size, Linked to Rising Pedestrian Deaths in Tennessee

Man on pedestrian crossing in autumn, in danger of being hit by car

Pedestrian fatalities in Tennessee have spiked in the last decade.

A recent study shows that pedestrian deaths in Tennessee have increased significantly in the past ten years. Road design and speed limits are cited as the top reasons for this increase. This research has important implications for Tennessee and other states. It provides insights that can help policymakers address this alarming issue.

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    What is the increase in pedestrian deaths in Tennessee?

    A study in the Transportation Research Record referenced in a report by StreetsBlog shows that pedestrian deaths in Tennessee increased by 117% from 2009 to 2019. The main correlation found was between more pedestrian accidents happening on straight, multi-lane roads with speed limits over 35 mph.

    These accidents occurred in urban and suburban areas. Pedestrians are in great danger on these roads called "arterial stroads," which are a mix of neighborhood streets and car-focused thoroughfares.

    Theories surrounding pedestrian deaths in Tennessee

    Christopher Cherry, the author of the study, highlighted that the increase in pedestrian fatalities couldn't be attributed solely to the expansion of roadways. Contrary to the belief that older pedestrians were most vulnerable to fatal accidents, the data challenged this assumption, raising questions about whether the aging population alone was responsible for the rising pedestrian death toll, considering that older individuals typically have lower survival rates in pedestrian accidents.

    Another misconception addressed in the study was the role of large SUVs and trucks in the high fatality rate in Tennessee. While these vehicles were not identified as the primary cause, it was emphasized that they pose greater risks to pedestrians compared to smaller cars. Cherry underscored the importance of regulating larger vehicles, especially in densely populated urban areas.

    However, the study underscored that the speed at which vehicles travel on city streets is a critical factor in crashes involving pedestrians. Collisions between pedestrians and fast-moving cars, trucks, SUVs, or buses often result in catastrophic outcomes. Controlling the speed limits on these roads is urgent.

    The role of speed in pedestrian accidents

    The speed at which vehicles travel on roadways directly impacts the likelihood and severity of pedestrian accidents. Here's how:

    • Reduced reaction time: When vehicles are traveling at high speeds, drivers have less time to react to pedestrians crossing the road or entering a crosswalk. Slower vehicle speeds allow drivers more time to respond, reducing the risk of hitting someone on foot.
    • Increased stopping distance: Vehicles traveling at high speeds require longer distances to come to a complete stop. If a pedestrian enters a crosswalk or roadway, a speeding vehicle may be unable to stop in time to avoid a collision. Lower speeds can significantly shorten the stopping distance, enhancing pedestrian safety.
    • Severity of injuries: The force of impact in a collision increases exponentially with speed, and this can be especially catastrophic when the collision involves a pedestrian who doesn't have the same protections as someone in a vehicle. When a pedestrian is struck by a fast-moving vehicle, the injuries sustained are more likely to be severe or fatal. Slower speeds reduce the force of impact, decreasing the severity of injuries in case of an accident.
    • Reduced visibility: Pedestrians at intersections and crosswalks are more challenging to spot for speeding drivers. The faster a driver goes, the smaller their margin for error.
    • It's more dangerous in urban environments: In urban areas with heavy pedestrian traffic, the dangers of speeding are amplified. Congested streets and intersections demand reduced speeds to accommodate the mix of vehicles and pedestrians safely.

    Your legal options if you were hit by a car

    Whether the result of speeding, distracted driving, or driver impairment, pedestrian deaths in Tennessee continue to be a problem because of driver negligence. That's why the Law Office Of Eric Beasley is committed to holding negligent drivers accountable and seeking justice for crash victims.

    We know how to investigate crashes involving pedestrians, deal with insurance companies, and maximize compensation for injured parties and their families.

    If you or a loved one was injured in a pedestrian accident in Middle Tennessee, contact us at our offices in Nashville or Goodlettsville for a free consultation.

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