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Michigan Pedestrian Deaths Are Increasing: What’s the Cause of this Alarming Trend?

Michigan Pedestrian Deaths Are Increasing: What’s the Cause of this Alarming Trend?

You may not have realized just how dangerous it’s become to take nearly any kind of walk anywhere in Michigan these days. As we reported previously, nearly 1,900 pedestrians were killed or injured in accidents across the state in 2022 (the most recent year for which we have complete data), and the total number of pedestrian deaths was on pace to surpass recent records during the last year. Many of those tragedies resulted from distractions – whether they were caused by inattentive drivers not paying attention to the road or the walkers themselves failing to watch where they were going. So, to recognize the importance of April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we’ve decided to look into the root causes of these terrifying statistics, and also to offer some advice on staying safer whether you’re out walking the dog, strolling to the local store, or simply trying to get in your daily 10,000 steps or some cycling cardio on Michigan’s sidewalks this spring. Let’s start with three factors that might be contributing to the rising number of pedestrian-related accidents plaguing the Great Lakes State.

Roundabouts Are a Relatively New Development

Michigan has made replacing traditional stoplights with roundabouts a statewide priority for traffic control. And while roundabouts are said to improve the flow of vehicles on our roads while saving time and fuel for drivers, they may also be contributing to pedestrian injuries since they can be challenging to cross, and getting around them on foot is an unfamiliar task for many people. That could be one reason why roundabouts are listed as some of the most dangerous intersections in Southeastern Michigan according to data recently published by a major Detroit newspaper.

Experts say the best way to avoid getting hit by a car while walking through an intersection controlled by a roundabout is to cross the street well before the actual circle of cars starts to form, as shown in the crosswalk locations indicated in this Federal Highway Administration pamphlet. Remember, too, that drivers entering a roundabout will always be looking toward their left to avoid approaching vehicles, so never attempt to cross on the right side of cars coming into a roundabout or you’ll be putting yourself directly into the path of oncoming traffic.

Cell Phones Pose Dangerous Distractions to Drivers and Peds Alike

Phones create deadly distractions not only for drivers, but for pedestrians as well. You’ve probably seen viral videos of hapless folks falling into holes, walking into traffic, or experiencing numerous other disastrous accidents all while paying too much attention to a small screen and not enough to their actual surroundings. Michigan has addressed part of this problem by instituting the hands-free cell phone law for drivers, which we’ve discussed here. But, maybe it’s time for state legislators to seriously lay down the law for pedestrians, too, though we imagine new rules to enhance pedestrian safety would be hard to enforce given the sheer number of people who just can’t seem to resist walking, texting, and talking all at the same time! And while some Michigan cities currently have anti-jaywalking rules in place to help prevent accidents caused by pedestrians who choose to cross streets outside of marked intersections, state laws governing pedestrian safety currently on the books seem to be inconsistently enforced.

More Michiganders Are Walking and Biking as a Means of Exercise

We weren’t joking when we mentioned those infamous 10,000 steps earlier. As the state’s population ages, we’re seeing more Michiganders take to the sidewalks every day to stay fit and live longer, happier, and healthier lives. You’ve probably observed people in your own neighborhood hoofing or biking it to the store, taking a leisurely walk with friends, or perhaps strolling to a nearby eatery or coffee shop. Springtime is officially here, which will likely make foot traffic even more common in the coming few months. And with more companies permitting their employees to work from home these days, you’ve also likely seen people on cell phones wandering around town while taking business calls from the office at the same time! Needless to say, with so many more pedestrians out and about, there are more opportunities for accidents to happen – including painful slip-and-fall incidents, and dangerous close encounters between pedestrians and vehicular traffic.

Can Speed Bumps Reduce the Number of Pedestrian Fatalities?

Speed bumps (or less abrupt raised areas of pavement called “speed humps”) are intended to “calm” traffic and can make it easier for pedestrians to safely cross busy roads by reducing vehicle speeds. But getting speed bumps installed in your neighborhood can be a real challenge. As WDET has reported, many municipalities across the state claim Michigan has “officially rejected” speed bumps as a “standard traffic control device on public streets.” However, numerous cities, including Lansing, Ann Arbor and Detroit, do have processes in place for residents to ask for speed bumps to be installed locally. Detroit even has a convenient web form that allows residents to request speed bumps, though it also has a form that permits petitioners to object to speed bump installation or opt out of a project if one has been planned for their location. Wayne County and Macomb County don’t offer similar opportunities on their websites, but you can contact the Wayne County road department and Macomb County Department of Roads directly if you have an interest in pursuing speed bump installation in your neighborhood. Oakland County is currently in the process of updating its speed bump application; for more information, you can contact the Oakland County Road Commission at 877-858-4804.

What to Do if You’re Injured in a Pedestrian Accident

To stay safer whenever you’re out for a walk, run, or bike ride, we recommend avoiding hazardous intersections, using crosswalks and obeying pedestrian traffic signals, putting away your cell phone, and – if it would help the situation in your neighborhood – asking local authorities to consider installing traffic calming devices on busy roadways. But if all that fails and you or someone you love become the victims of an accident, you have a faithful friend at Mike Morse Law Firm. We’ll be at your side as soon as you call us at 855-MIKE-WINS (855-645-3946) or get in touch with us online. Never hesitate to contact us immediately It’s our job to protect your rights and to help you get the compensation you need to get well and live your best life. We’ll do our best to have you back on your feet again in no time!

Michigan Pedestrian Deaths Are Increasing: What’s the Cause of this Alarming Trend?

Content checked by Mike Morse, personal injury attorney with Mike Morse Injury Law Firm. Mike Morse is the founder of Mike Morse Law Firm, the largest personal injury law firm in Michigan. Since being founded in 1995, Mike Morse Law Firm has grown to 150 employees, served 25,000 clients, and collected more than $1 billion for victims of auto, truck and motorcycle accidents. The main office is in Southfield, MI but you can also find us in Detroit, Sterling Heights and many other locations.