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Interstates in U.S. dangerous for pedestrians, AAA study notes

The Missouri Department of Transportation wants to increase safety awareness for pedestrians, who not only include people crossing the street, but those who are stranded on the side of a highway.
The Missouri Department of Transportation wants to increase safety awareness for pedestrians, who not only include people crossing the street, but those who are stranded on the side of a highway. The Kansas City Star

The worst thing any motorist can do on the highway is to leave his car.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that pedestrian deaths on U.S. interstates make up a significant percentage of overall pedestrian fatalities, especially in Missouri. The March-April 2015 edition of AAA Midwest Traveler magazine quotes the report, saying an average of 515 pedestrians were struck and killed by vehicles on interstates each year from 1993 to 2012.

Those fatalities accounted for about 10 percent of all pedestrian deaths in the U.S. and 11.6 percent of all traffic fatalities on interstates.

“In Missouri, however, nearly one in four pedestrian deaths (or 25 percent) happened on an interstate highway in that time frame,” the report said. “Only Wyoming had a higher rate.”

Missouri recorded 386 pedestrians killed on the state’s interstates in that 10-year period. “In other Midwestern states, the percentage of interstate pedestrian deaths compared to total pedestrian fatalities was 8.6 percent in Illinois, 11.4 percent in Indiana and 14 percent in Kansas,” the report said.

Motorists often become “unintended pedestrians as they deal with a disabled vehicle, exit their vehicle to retrieve something that fell from their car, stop on the shoulder to change drivers or deal with any number of situations that can occur.” People must be aware that not only are interstate vehicles traveling fast, but many drivers also are not exactly paying attention, expecting cars on the side of the road or expecting people to exit those vehicles. Here are some facts to keep in mind while trying to stay safe in your travels:

▪ AAA notes that 74.4 percent of the interstate pedestrian fatalities occurred from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., and nearly half happened on Saturday or Sunday.

▪ Twice as many pedestrian interstate fatalities occurred in urban areas compared with rural areas.

▪ Of the pedestrians killed on the interstates, 80.2 percent were male and 47.6 percent were age 20 to 39.

▪ More than a third of the pedestrians who died were legally drunk.

The AAA report advises motorists with car trouble on an interstate, who can’t get to an exit, to pull to the far right shoulder as far off the road as possible. Turn on the emergency flashers, and use a cellphone if available to call for help.

Make the call in the vehicle once it is safely out of traffic.

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