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Pedestrian Deaths Spiked in 2015, Governors Report Indicates

My hometown motivates me to work hard for my client and get results.- John Cooper

Attorney at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers

Pedestrian Deaths Spiked in 2015, Governors Report Indicates

By Griff O'Hanlon, Norfolk Pedestrian Accident Attorney

Last February, 62-year-old Gary W. Bess, Sr. was killed when he was hit by a pickup truck while he was walking on Norfolk’s notoriously pedestrian-unfriendly Tidewater Drive.

Tidewater Drive frequently makes headlines when pedestrians are killed or injured. It’s one of Hampton Roads' fast moving urban highways that run through residential areas and is notorious for its lack of crosswalks, as my colleague John Cooper explains in this video.

It wasn’t the only highway in Hampton Roads to record a pedestrian death last year. A 60-year-old woman from Hampton lost her life to a hit-and-run driver on Jefferson Avenue in Newport News – another major road with an appalling record for pedestrian accidents.

It’s not clear if the number of pedestrian accidents is increasing in Hampton Roads, but there is little evidence that roads such as Jefferson Avenue and Tidewater Drive are becoming any more pedestrian-friendly. A report released this month suggests fatal pedestrian accidents are surging nationally at levels not seen in decades.

The report issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents governors’ highway safety offices, estimates pedestrian deaths rose by as much as 10 percent last year.

The report by Richard Retting and Dr. Heather Rothenberg of Sam Schwartz Consulting was based on preliminary data reported by all 50 state highway safety agencies and the District of Columbia for the first six months of 2015.

“We are projecting the largest year-to-year increase in pedestrian fatalities since national records have been kept, and therefore, we are quite alarmed,” stated Retting.

The preliminary figures are particularly alarming because ever since the Fatality Analysis Reporting System was established in 1975, the annual change in the number of pedestrian fatalities has fluctuated from a 10.5 percent fall to an 8.1 percent increase. We could be seeing a year-on-year rise in pedestrian deaths on a scale that’s unprecedented since the 1970s.

Distracted Driving is Fuelling Pedestrian Deaths

The report suggests low gas prices may have been a factor behind the spike as motorists put an unprecedented amount of miles behind the wheel. However, the growing use of smartphones, causing drivers to be distracted, may also be to blame, the Governors Highway Safety Association warns.

The association suggested the increased number of walkers may be a further factor in the spike, underscoring the “need to create safe, walkable pathways and ensure that people who drive and people who walk both understand and follow the rules of the road.”

Researchers made the estimate of a 10 percent rise in pedestrian fatalities by comparing the 2,368 pedestrian deaths in the first half of 2015 with the same period in 2014 (2,232), and adjusting for likely underreporting.

If you have been hurt in a pedestrian accident in Virginia or north eastern North Carolina or have lost a loved one, call us at (757) 455-0077 or see our resources on accidents involving pedestrians or cyclists.

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John Cooper

John Cooper is a veteran of personal injury law practice in Virginia. A native Virginian, he was raised in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. He has more than 20 years of experience handling personal injury cases and recently handled the largest auto accident settlement in 2010, according to VA Lawyers Weekly. The award provided $3.5 million to a child whose young father died when the vehicle he was a passenger in was rear-ended by a careless truck driver.

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Jim Hurley

Jim Hurley has been practicing law throughout Virginia for more than two-and-a-half decades. During his career, he has tried more than 100 jury trials — a staggering number — and handled hundreds more that were settled out of court. He is guided by the principle that the client is in charge of his or her case and should be kept fully aware of the litigation process. Jim has been awarded an AV Rating by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating given, for his practice of law. He was named in Virginia Super Lawyers in 2014, 2015, 2016.

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Bill O’mara

Bill O’Mara started his legal career in 2008, moving back to his home town of Chesapeake, VA. He has practiced in the field of plaintiffs’ personal injury and other litigation. He has gained extensive court room and trial experience, including contested trials before judges and juries across Hampton Roads. In 2014, Mr. O’Mara joined Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers as an associate attorney. He became a partner in 2017.

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