Pedestrian and cyclists have virtually no protection from vehicles and their fatalities rose between 2010 and 2017. Darkness is apparently a major factor in personal injury accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists, especially in the southern United States.

Nighttime deaths for pedestrians and bicyclists rose by 46 percent from 2010 through 2017. By comparison, daytime fatalities also grew but by only 15 percent. There were 4,804 pedestrian and bicyclist deaths in this country in 2017.

Deaths in dark conditions were more frequent in some parts of the country, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Generally, areas in the South had the highest rated per capita. NHTSA found that a third of all these deaths took place in unlighted areas while a slightly higher amount took place at night where there was some lighting

Accident reports indicate that motorists are not seeing the bicyclist or pedestrian, according to Florida’s pedestrian and bicycle safety program manager. The usual causes of these accidents, such as distracted driving, are compounded at night when drivers are not generally expecting pedestrians.

Commonly-used lights at crosswalks have not been effective. These mostly illuminate pedestrian heads instead of their full vertical silhouettes. Placement of lighting in front of crosswalks at lower heights and better-kept pavement markings would help correct this.

However, most accidents do not take place at crosswalks. Only 30 percent of nighttime deaths involving pedestrian and bicyclists took place at intersections or other junctions. Especially dangerous places include large stretches of roadways between roadways where there are no crosswalk signals. Areas experiencing high per capita rates of nighttime deaths tend to be in the suburbs where roads are designed to be used exclusively by cars.

U.S. 90 near Pensacola is one example of this problem. It was a primary roadway decades ago. However, a new interstate was constructed in the north which allowed vehicles to go faster. Instead of protecting pedestrians, the roads were designed to increase traffic flow.

Pedestrians and bicyclists can face serious and even fatal injuries in a crash caused by a distracted, impaired or negligent driver. An attorney can help victims and their families seek compensation against drivers or those responsible for areas lacking reasonable safety measures.