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Pedestrian deaths increasing nationally and locally

An increasing problem both locally in Tennessee and nationally is the continued increase in pedestrian injuries and deaths. Nationally in 2017, nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed which was a number that had not been reached in the last 25 years. Closer to home in Tennessee, the number of pedestrian deaths has also been going up. Memphis ranks among the top 25 large cities for its pedestrian fatality rate, Knoxville came in at 47 and Nashville was at number 70 on the list.

How dangerous is this problem? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states there will be an average of 430 people nationally who will be admitted to an emergency room in the next 24 hours due to a pedestrian-traffic related injury.

Why are cars and pedestrians not getting along? For Tennessee, many believe it has to do with Nashville and Memphis experiencing such problems as crumbling concrete, lack of sidewalks and streets without crosswalks. Around 80 percent of pedestrian deaths in Nashville the last few years happened on state highways. The most dangerous tend to be wide roads that contain multiple lanes going in different directions.

What can both drivers and pedestrians do to make the amount of injuries and deaths go down? Here are some tips.

Tips if you are a pedestrian:

  • Use crosswalks or only cross at an intersection and follow the crossing signals instructions.
  • Avoid jaywalking or not using a crosswalk to cross a street.
  • Make sure you are seen by wearing reflective clothing or carry a flashlight.
  • Try to have eye-contact with any driver near you as you are crossing the street.
  • Do not cross a street while looking at a phone or be distracted talking to someone else.
  • Always use a sidewalk or walk on the shoulder of the road facing traffic.

Tips if you are a driver:

  • Pay close attention when you are in high foot-traffic areas such as neighborhoods and school zones.
  • Stay extra alert and turn on your headlights during inclement weather when visibility may be bad.
  • Always yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and do not speed up to get through a crosswalk to avoid stopping for a pedestrian.
  • Do not drive distracted.
  • Do not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Hitting a person with your car can be a terrible tragedy. The easiest way to stay safe as a driver or as a pedestrian is to take a little extra time and be alert for others who may not be paying attention.

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