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Car accidents involving pedestrians on the rise

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Posted at 7:34 PM, Mar 11, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-11 21:34:15-04

SALT LAKE CITY – The number of auto-pedestrian accidents is on the rise in Utah. The Department of Public Safety released data showing an alarming trend.

From 2002 to 2011, the number of auto-pedestrian deaths increased 3 percent, while the number of overall auto-pedestrian crashes increased 29 percent.

The annual report compiles numbers from law enforcement agencies across the state, and the data shows that in 2002 there were 636 auto-pedestrian accidents. In 2011 there were 820, but Unified Police said the upward trend continues.

“In 2011, Unified Police Department responded on 12 serious injury or fatal auto pedestrian accidents,” Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal said. “In 2012 we responded on 21.”

Just last week a Salt Lake City man died after being hit on Highland Drive.

The data also analyzed crash factors. In 2011, 33 percent of crashes were the result of drivers failing to yield the right of way, 14 percent were hit and runs, 8 percent were distracted drivers, 4 percent were caused by weather conditions and another 4 percent were caused by improper backing.

“Drivers need to be more attentive,” Hoyal said. “They’re getting distracted. Whether it be by cell phones, by radios.”

But the report also looked at the leading cause from the pedestrian side. While in 50 percent of cases pedestrians had no contributing factor, 14 percent were caused by improper crossing, 8 percent were caused by darting into traffic and 7 percent were caused by pedestrians improperly using the roadway.

“What’s important is for pedestrians to remember as they’re crossing the street: Cross in a crosswalk. Cross in a well-lit area,” Hoyal said.

Pedestrians said they see near misses almost every day, and it’s a problem that deserves mutual respect.

“People just need to be more patient, and when they’re supposed to come to a stop,” Salt Lake City resident Lisa Swope said. “They need to respect pedestrians. Many, many do, but there’s a whole lot that don’t.”

The full report can be found on the Department of Public Safety’s website, http://publicsafety.utah.gov/highwaysafety/documents/Section9Pedestrians2011.pdf