Pedestrian safety should be a top priority in every city. Protecting the road’s most vulnerable users takes constant vigilance, innovations in pedestrian safety and awareness of the daily threats pedestrians face. Alabama is the second-deadliest state for pedestrians, according to a new report by Smart Growth America. The number of pedestrian deaths in Alabama has increased by 75% over the last 10 years. In light of new information regarding pedestrian deaths in Alabama, state lawmakers may make changes in the future to prevent these tragedies.

Pedestrian Accident Statistics in Alabama

Alabama’s Dangerous By Design report by Smart Growth America states that 119 pedestrians lost their lives in 2017. This fatality rate is in keeping with Alabama’s upward trend in pedestrian accidents and deaths. From 2008 to 2010, less than 70 pedestrians lost their lives each year. From 2011 to 2015, the rate increased more or less steadily from 79 to 98 deaths. In 2016, 120 pedestrians died in traffic accidents, followed by 119 in 2017. Alabama’s national pedestrian danger index (PDI) was 145 over the last 10 years – almost three times the national PDI of 55.3.

Pedestrian fatalities made up 9.4% of Alabama’s total traffic deaths from 2008 to 2017. Some of the most dangerous cities in Alabama for pedestrians are Mobile, Huntsville, Dothan, Decatur, Gadsden and Montgomery. Huntsville had a PDI of 237 – the second highest in the state behind Mobile. Senior citizens are especially at risk in Alabama. According to crash statistics, Alabama is the 38th most dangerous state for pedestrians over age 50. Adults over 50 are almost 8% more likely to get into pedestrian accidents than those under 50.

What Makes Alabama So Dangerous for Pedestrians?

Smart Growth America ranks states in terms of overall risk factors for pedestrians, not just by the number of pedestrians injured or killed each year. Alabama made number two on the list not from its number of pedestrian deaths alone, but rather because of its pedestrian danger index. A state’s PDI considers many different factors to determine a state’s overall pedestrian safety level.

  • The design of the state’s roadways and pedestrian crossings
  • How many people walk to work
  • The population of the state
  • How many pedestrians get into traffic accidents
  • Whether the state has a Complete Streets policy

Alabama has yet to adopt a statewide Complete Streets policy. Complete Streets is a national coalition that works to better protect pedestrians. It encourages cities and states to design and redesign their roads with every user in mind – including pedestrians. Complete Streets policies can help a state create, fund and maintain safer roads and sidewalks. So far, Alabama has 17 local and regional Complete Street policies, but no state safety initiative.

Who Is Liable for Pedestrian Injuries and Deaths in Alabama?

Alabama’s high PDI highlights a major issue in the state’s treatment of pedestrian safety. The state or city could be negligent in its failure to adequately protect pedestrians from collisions. Dangerously designed streets, lack of pedestrian crosswalks, high speed limits and distracted drivers could all contribute to pedestrian deaths and injuries in Alabama. If a pedestrian gets into a traffic accident, he or she may be able to hold the government at least partially liable for damages.

Failure to reasonably prevent pedestrian collisions, such as refusing to repair a broken stoplight or ignoring citizen complaints about a dangerous intersection, could point to municipal liability for collisions. Bringing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the state or city could result in compensation for many different damages, including hospital bills, disability expenses, lost income, physical pain and emotional suffering.

Another party that could be liable for a pedestrian accident in Alabama is the driver that struck the person who was walking or jogging. Drivers who do not yield pedestrians the right-of-way, drink and drive, text and drive, speed or break traffic laws could all cause pedestrian accidents. An at-fault driver may have to take financial responsibility for the pedestrian’s economic and noneconomic losses. Injured pedestrians could have grounds for lawsuits against one or more parties after serious accidents in Alabama.