The United States has an economic system that encourages innovation. As a result, competition drives our companies to frequently take a leadership role in technological, health, and safety advances. These successes lead some people to believe that the United States similarly excels in other societal endeavors.
But just because our country excels in some areas, such as medicine, post-secondary education, and the economy, does that mean that we have all the answers when it comes to safety? We will explore one aspect of this query by examining whether pedestrians are safer in the United States or Europe.
Comparing Pedestrians in the United States and Abroad
Unfortunately for American pedestrians, the danger of getting into an auto accident as a pedestrian or a driver here is significantly higher than in European countries with similar affluence. According to statistics developed by Virginia Tech, Americans, on average, do not make even one-half the number of walking trips per day as the British, yet for each mile walked, the American pedestrian is almost six times more likely to die. This includes in accidents occurring on the road, in parking lots, and in school zones.
However, the poor results are not limited to comparisons to England. The researchers found comparable poor showing by the United States when compared to the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark.
Moreover, Europe seems to be making additional progress faster than the U.S. The eleven European countries studied had a 78% decrease in pedestrian fatalities for the years 1990-2020. While the United States also improved, the reduction was comparatively lower at 26%. However, of much greater concern, from 2010 to 2020, U.S. pedestrian fatalities increased 25%. None of the European countries studied had increases.
Why Are Pedestrians Safer in Europe?
Researchers and other experts suggest various reasons for making pedestrians safer in Europe and less safe in the United States. We will discuss several below.
- Large Vehicles – for those who have traveled in Europe, you have probably noticed that motor vehicles are much smaller on average than in the United States. These larger vehicles are more likely than smaller vehicles to kill a pedestrian.
- Road Design – there is a belief by many commentators on this issue that American roads are designed primarily with automobiles (not pedestrians) in mind. Many other countries are making an effort in their urban planning to make safer zones for pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Traffic Laws and Enforcement – One researcher noted that traffic laws are mild in the United States compared to some countries, and that they are not enforced as vigorously. As a result, drivers who violate the law may not be as worried about accountability in the U.S.
Keeping Oregon Roads Safe
Drivers in Oregon have a responsibility to keep pedestrians safe. The best way that this can be done is to follow traffic and safety laws, be mindful of your surroundings as a driver, and pay attention to the road as you drive.
Pedestrian safety is also, in part, up to the pedestrians themselves. If you are frequently on foot or on a bike, ensure that you know what laws pertain to you, and when you have the right of way over a vehicle.
Call with Questions
Oregon is a place where people love to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. That includes many pedestrians and bicyclists. Unfortunately, statistics show that we face dangers while walking. If you’ve been injured as a pedestrian, bicyclist, or motorcyclist, you deserve to understand your legal rights. We are here to answer any questions that you might have about your rights in a free consultation.