MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - New numbers show a sharp increase in pedestrian-related fatalities in Alabama and across the country over the last ten years. On the heels of Daylight Saving Time and Halloween, Cpl. Jess Thornton with the Alabama State Troopers is cautioning both pedestrians and drivers of this growing danger.
“Drivers are not driving with 100 percent focus,” Thornton said of the latest numbers released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
New data shows the number of people killed inside a vehicle is declining, but for those on the outside, like pedestrians, fatalities are on the rise.
“The numbers are up, we’re seeing more pedestrians unfortunately be involved in crashes and losing their lives,” Thornton explained.
In Alabama, pedestrian deaths are up 60 percent since 2008. Montgomery has the third highest number of pedestrian deaths in the state behind Jefferson and Mobile counties.
“But there are ways to avoid those type situations on both ends, whether it be a motorist or the pedestrian,” he explained. “Motorists, they have to put down those distractions and obviously, at all times, drive sober.”
Thornton explained pedestrians are often struck alongside a roadway, whether it's walking or tending to a vehicle.
“Pedestrians, anytime you’re involved in a crash or your vehicle becomes disabled, if possible, get that vehicle as safely and far off the roadway as you can. Understand that in the oncoming traffic, motorists may not see you or may not be paying attention.”
The latest data shows 66 percent of pedestrian-related fatalities in Alabama were caused by the pedestrian.
“If you make it a habit of being near a roadway while exercising or whatever the case may be, understand that there’s a lot of drivers out there now that they don’t drive sober, that don’t drive responsibly, they drive distracted,” said Thornton.
Nationally, nighttime pedestrian deaths increased nearly 5 percent over the last year. Of those killed in 2018, 76 percent were hit after dark according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“The time change is upon us,” said Thornton. “You’re going to be seeing it getting dark earlier, you’ve got Halloween right around the corner, there’s going to be unfortunately the perfect scenario for somebody to get hit.”
Thornton encourages parents to add reflective tape or clothing to children’s Halloween costumes and shoes to make them more visible to drivers while trick-or-treating.