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Report highlights pedestrian dangers

Throughout the year, people can be seen walking or jogging on sidewalks or along the side of the road nearly anywhere that there is traffic. Drivers often forget that motor vehicles are not the only type of transportation to share the roads. As a result, pedestrian accidents are a cause of great concern for residents of West Virginia, as well as across the country.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 19 people were killed while walking in West Virginia in 2014. Numerous factors frequently contribute to pedestrian accidents, from poor weather conditions and early darkness in the fall and winter to distracted or intoxicated driving.

A 2014 study by Smart Growth America, entitled Dangerous by Design, has shed some light on the problem of pedestrian accidents. Researchers revealed that many roads across the country are not sufficiently developed to safely accommodate pedestrians. Increasing amounts of traffic in urban areas are a common cause of pedestrian crashes, with many accidents occurring at intersections or parking lots. Many neighborhoods and shopping centers are connected by high-speed arterial roadways, which help vehicular traffic get to their destinations faster but are more dangerous for those who are walking.

Rural traffic presents the greatest risk for pedestrians, however. Most pedestrian accidents, in fact, occur on country roadways. These roads are less busy than urban traffic, but the high speeds of rural highways combined with the frequent lack of sidewalks and traffic lights are a recipe for pedestrian danger.

The report concludes that fatalities may be reduced by modifying roadways to include safety features for pedestrians, such as crossing areas and sidewalks set at a safe distance away from traffic. However, making these changes to roads across America will take time and expense. Those who are injured in pedestrian accidents may want to speak with an attorney.

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