Serious pedestrian accidents have spiked dramatically in the past decade throughout the United States. The Wilmington area is no different.
The city of Wilmington and its surrounding areas feature many wide roads with poor pedestrian safety measures. Wilmington residents practically take their lives into their own hands every time they cross a busy street. The problem is only getting worse as the area’s population explodes and there are more cars on the roads.
Nationally, the number of pedestrian accident fatalities has increased by more than 50% in the past decade. Factors such as larger cars and more reckless and distracted drivers have caused the uptick in severe accidents. While much of the headlines focus on pedestrian accident fatalities, a large majority of crash victims are left with serious and potentially life-changing injuries.
The Wilmington pedestrian accident lawyers at Horton Mendez invite you to contact our firm if you or a loved one were struck by a vehicle as a pedestrian.
Wilmington Has One of the Highest Rates of Pedestrian Accidents in North Carolina
Throughout 2023, there have been numerous incidents in which pedestrians have been killed on Wilmington’s roads.
Wilmington averages roughly 75 pedestrian accidents and three fatalities per year, even though the city’s population just tops 115,000. The city ranks as the most dangerous in North Carolina for pedestrians, and some changes are sorely needed.
The Most Dangerous Pedestrian Corridors in Wilmington
Pedestrian accident dangers can be markedly reduced when policymakers focus on the deadliest parts of the city. Notably, half of the city’s incidents involving pedestrians occur on just 10% of the local roads.
The deadliest roads for pedestrians in Wilmington include:
- Market Street
- Kerr Avenue
- College Road
- Third Street
- Carolina Beach Road
- Oleander Drive
These roadways handle as many as 4,000 pedestrians per day, who must navigate many cars and dangerous conditions to reach their destination safely. The danger is compounded by the fact that the posted speeds on these roads are between 40-45 miles per hour.
Pedestrians have almost no chance of walking away from an accident at that speed unscathed. In fact, a pedestrian who is struck by a vehicle traveling at that speed has only a 35% chance of surviving the accident.
According to a survey of pedestrian accidents in Wilmington, few of these crashes were “dart out” accidents where victims suddenly moved into traffic. Instead, most of these accidents occurred at intersections or when a vehicle was turning. Thus, the problem is more structural, as opposed to being an issue of risky pedestrian behaviors.
Wilmington’s City Planners Need to Focus More on High-Risk Areas
Clearly, more safety measures are necessary in the areas where they are needed the most. Much of the improved pedestrian infrastructure is located in newer subdivisions of Wilmington, where there are already better traffic control measures.
The lower-income parts of the city continue to be a danger for its residents who are walking. Over 90% of pedestrian accidents occur in areas of Wilmington where poverty levels are higher than the national average and where more people may be walking to reach their destination.
Walk Wilmington Is Working to Improve the Safety Situation
Wilmington has made efforts to increase pedestrian safety in the area. The city invested a small sum of money to upgrade its longstanding pedestrian safety plan, but it has not completed many projects that would protect pedestrians.
Now, the city has undertaken an effort to update and improve upon its previous plan. Walk Wilmington has made updated recommendations designed to decrease the number of pedestrian accidents by 65%. Walk Wilmington presented a draft plan to the City Council that spans 125 pages.
The commitment of a wide range of stakeholders gives some hope that this initiative may succeed in accomplishing the stated goal of reducing serious pedestrian accidents.
Walk Wilmington’s Recommendations for Increased Pedestrian Safety
Walk Wilmington has made a number of recommendations to the City Council to improve pedestrian safety. These recommendations include:
- More sidewalks on many of the busy streets listed above that would keep pedestrians from having to cross the street
- Focusing safety investments on the busiest streets that present the most risks to pedestrians
- Dedicated paths for pedestrians where they are most needed
In addition, the city is considering lowering vehicle speeds in some corridors and installing pedestrian islands in certain intersections. A pedestrian safety island reduces the amount of time that the walker is in the middle of the intersection and is particularly useful for busier intersections.
The Collaboration Between Policymakers and Stakeholders Gives Hope Going Forward
In June 2023, the Wilmington City Council passed a large funding package that would invest in a pedestrian path behind the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and in improved intersections. Walk Wilmington will continue to track the safety situation and work with stakeholders to recommend further improvements, as there is now a renewed commitment to improving pedestrian safety.
There is some hope that pedestrian safety in Wilmington may finally move in the right direction, and the city may be able to buck deteriorating national trends. Time will tell if the city follows through on its initiative and focuses resources on the most dangerous areas that need them the most.
However, focusing on the most urgent priorities and the more dangerous areas could reduce the number of serious pedestrian accidents. This time around, policymakers appear to be trying to spend money with a specific plan in mind.
Contact a Wilmington Pedestrian Accident Attorney
Pedestrian accidents will still occur, no matter how much the government tries to fix the problem. You simply cannot fix bad drivers.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, you need a tenacious attorney to work for you to get full financial compensation for your damages.
The team at Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys represent pedestrian accident victims in the Wilmington area as we fight on your behalf for you to get what you deserve. You can schedule a free consultation with an attorney by sending us a message online or by calling us today at 910-405-7751.