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Who is to blame for Maryland pedestrian deaths?

Nobody is contesting the vulnerability of pedestrians. If you are walking to the bus stop and a vehicle strikes you, there are no airbags or crumple zones to absorb even a little of the impact. You probably are not wearing a helmet, heavy boots or other protection a motorcyclist might wear, or even a bicycle helmet to protect your head from a blow. 

This lack of protection contributes to dozens of pedestrian deaths in Maryland each year. In fact, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, there were over 100 pedestrians struck and killed by vehicles in Maryland during 2016. 

Engineering defects

According to The Baltimore Sun, some people believe the reason for most of these deaths and injuries involves the design of the state's roadways. The Capital News Service analyzed pedestrian accident information across the state and discovered that there are 100 areas on roadways maintained by the Maryland State Highway Administration that have each seen multiple pedestrian accidents between 2015 and 2017. 

Problems with road design may include walk signals for crosswalks that do not allow you enough time to safely cross the road. High speed limits also put you in danger, as well as wide roadways with no pedestrian islands or median fences. Narrow sidewalks that do not allow enough space between you and the roadway are also problems.

Driver negligence

Critics place the blame on distracted drivers, and even on pedestrians themselves, rather than on engineering factors. It is true that there are always going to be drivers who speed, look at their cellphones and ignore traffic signals. However, lower speed limits and more traffic lights reduce opportunities for high speeds on city streets, and so does increased traffic enforcement.

Pedestrian responsibility

Following all pedestrian safety laws, including crossing at intersections and using sidewalks wherever they are available, can improve your chances of getting to your destination safely. No matter how well you follow the rules, though, there are problem areas in the state that are just not as safe for pedestrians as others. Your best bet is to always remain alert and aware of your surroundings so you can minimize the risks of poor roadway engineering and negligent motorists.

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