We love our vehicles in the United States. But in general, driving is probably the most dangerous thing we do every day. According to the CDC, car crashes are the leading cause of death for practically everyone under the age of 45. Closer to home, in Kentucky from January 1 through August 20 of 2016, 439 persons died on our roads, with 49 of those fatalities occurring in Louisville. That number makes Louisville the deadliest location in the Commonwealth to operate a vehicle.

In its general traffic fatality rate, Louisville is worse than the bigger city of Atlanta. When figured per 100,000 residents, the death rate is as follows:

  • Almost twice as many die on the roads in Louisville as in Chicago.
  • Three times as many die on the roads in Louisville as in New York City.
  • Four times as many die on the roads in Louisville as in Washington, D.C.

It’s fair to say that Louisville is a dangerous place to drive. However, you might not know that for pedestrians it’s even more dangerous.

Smaller Size, Larger Hazards

Louisville often ranks 30th in population size among U.S. cities; by metropolitan area in 2010, Louisville came in 42nd out of 51. And yet, for our size, we consistently appear in the top 20 when it comes to danger to pedestrians. In a 2014 report, Louisville was revealed to be the 17th most dangerous U.S. metropolitan area out of 51. In 2015 alone, 453 pedestrians were struck by vehicles in Louisville, with 18 of them dying. When you compare cities with populations of over 500,000 people, Louisville has the tenth-highest pedestrian fatality rate.

Finally, consider this: in the first two months of 2016, 61 pedestrians were struck by vehicles just in Louisville. That’s an average of one impact between human and vehicle every day.

Why Are Pedestrians at Such Risk in Louisville?

Nationally, pedestrians are most at risk from drivers who are impaired from alcohol or drugs, driving distracted, speeding, or driving aggressively. It’s most common for drivers to be turning left or right, making a U-turn, or backing up immediately prior to striking a pedestrian. But what’s going on in Louisville?

Basically, people aren’t paying attention or obeying the law. Even when pedestrians use crosswalks and obey traffic signals, drivers ignore traffic regulations, engage in distracted driving of all kinds (primarily using phones to talk or text, or eating), or are under the influence. A full 40 percent of drivers who hit pedestrians are speeding. The second most common cause of pedestrian crashes is drivers who fail to yield the right of way, which pedestrians have in many situations.

We can’t say that there are extraordinary reasons why pedestrians are being struck at a higher rate in Louisville. It simply appears that drivers are committing certain errors at a higher rate than in other geographic locations, resulting in a greater rate of injured and killed pedestrians.

Danger Zones in Louisville

Most pedestrian crashes occur on local streets and in all sections of the Louisville Metro area. However, pedestrians are struck most often in the Central Business District (CBD). In a study that spanned from 2006 to 2010, the top three most risky intersections for pedestrians were the following CBD cross-streets:

  • Second Street and Broadway
  • Fourth Street and Broadway
  • Fourth and Market.

It is also clear that primary roads have their share of vehicular-pedestrian crashes. In the same 2006-2010 study, the fourth and fifth most risky places for pedestrian crashes were the following:

  • Bardstown Road at Goldsmith Lane
  • Preston Highway at Gilmore Lane.

Bardstown Road and Preston Highway have appeared at the top of more than one list of hazardous streets for pedestrians. Others that carry great risk in our area include a number of sections of the Dixie Highway, Baxter Avenue, New Cut Road, and Hikes Lane. The Dixie “Die-Way” deserves special attention, because 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths since 2010 have occurred on that road.

Of the five intersections mentioned above, between January 1 and the middle of March 2016, pedestrian accidents happened at four of the five. The sole exception was the Preston Highway at Gilmore Lane intersection.

What Can Be Done to Change the Situation?

Police have begun spotlighting Louisville’s high-risk intersections for violations, as well as checking crosswalk equipment to make sure that everything is in proper working order. Between February 2015 and mid-March 2016, offficers wrote over 2,000 citations to drivers who broke the law.  Perhaps greater vigilance by the police, along with greater awareness among the public, can prevent future tragedies such as the 2016 death of Ryann Marie Tewell. The former gymnast used a crosswalk on her way to her job as a financial analyst with Humana one morning, only to be struck and dragged by the driver of a turning cement truck who did not see her. The truck’s driver didn’t even realize he’d hit her until another driver alerted him. Ms. Tewell died at the scene.

Louisville Metro Police Sgt. Ruby Ellison, a veteran of the police traffic unit who has worked four of her 19 years on the force with the unit, is distressed over the situation. She commented that, “People are talking to their boss on a conference call on the way to Jimmy John’s. Your life is worth waiting a few more seconds.”

We can only agree with Sgt. Ellison’s conclusion.

Trusted Advisors. Proven Advocates.

We at McNeely Stephenson know that pedestrian accident cases can mean complex legal claims. Such claims require thorough investigation and demand aggressive litigation to secure the best possible outcome for the plaintiff. While monetary compensation can never undo the damage done as the result of an accident, a financial recovery can ease the financial burdens caused by overwhelming medical bills, loss of income, and disability.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a pedestrian accident in the Louisville, Kentucky, area, we suggest you talk with accident and personal injury lawyer Mike Stephenson. With more than three decades of experience, substantial financial resources to commit to your case, and a commitment to the highest standards of client care, you can count on Mike. Contact him today by calling 1-317-825-5200 for a free consultation, or use our online contact form. At McNeely Stephenson, we believe justice matters.