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Pedestrian Accident Report: Driver Error or Jaywalking?

Updated on: 2/20/2019

Jaywalking a problem in Seattle
A recent traffic report suggests that there is a war on pedestrians, in reference to the car-pedestrian accidents that reached a four-year high last year.

The report shows that most collisions are attributed to the driver’s error, failure to yield being the most common. However, the report reveals that last year, the amount of tickets for failing to yield to pedestrians dropped and the amount of jaywalking tickets went up.

So, does this change the source of the problem?

Mayor Mike McGinn said that enforcement is part of his road-safety summit plan that started this week. He added that it costs less to get rid of red light runners than it does to ticket pedestrians for violations.

Former Transportation Secretary Douglas MacDonald responded to report, noting that the enforcement priority is focused on the easy solution rather than getting to the root of the problem.

"It's easier to hand out the jaywalking ticket," the mayor said in a news conference. "So that may be what former secretary MacDonald was saying about 'low-hanging fruit.'"

McGinn says that criticism is fair.

“But the trend doesn't reflect a policy change, but a change in practices.”That's something we should take a look at, to see which ones are the best way to do it," McGinn said.

In the 2010 traffic data, the number of tickets issued to a driver that failed to yield to a pedestrian, decrease by 50%, from 400 in 2009 to just fewer than 200 in 2010. However, jaywalking tickets increased 23%, resulting in more than 1,500 violations.

Pedestrian Accident Statistics

There was a loss of 4,881 lives in pedestrian accidents in 2005, almost thirteen people every day of the year (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts). Though the number of pedestrian fatalities fell from 5,584 in 1995 to 4,881 in 2005, the fatalities in 2005 were the highest since 4,901 fatalities were recorded in 2001.

Pedestrians account for about 30% of all traffic fatalities involving children under the age of 15 years. NHTSA estimates that more than 22% of children between the ages of 5 and 9 who were killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians. Roughly 19% of children involved in traffic fatalities under age 16 were pedestrians. And approximately 8% of all children under age 16 injured in a car accident were pedestrians.

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