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Michael Leizerman
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Federal Study: Pedestrians, Bicyclists, and Large Trucks Don’t Mix

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Fatalities among pedestrians and bicyclists in collisions with large trucks increased at a faster rate than the overall truck-related crash fatalities recorded from 2009 to 2013, according to a federal study.

 From the report, pedestrian fatalities in crashes with large trucks increased 30 percent from 2009 to 2013, while total fatalities in large-truck crashes only increased by 17 percent. Bicyclist fatalities in large truck crashes increased 39 percent from 2009 to 2013.

Approximately 75 percent of the pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities involved trucks that weighed more than 26,000 pounds, and most of those truck-involved fatalities occurred in urban areas, according to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Barriers to Walking and Biking

The study identified a series of physical barriers that prevent safe walking and bicycling. Some of these include:

  • Missing infrastructure
  • Insufficient maintenance
  • Poorly designed roadways and traffic signals
  • Lack of safe and comfortable sidewalks, crossings, and bicycle facilities
  • Roadways built to accommodate high speed, high volume vehicular traffic, not foot or bicycle traffic
  • Constrained rights of way
  • Poles, street furniture, and other obstructions impeding the path of walkers and bicyclists
  • Excessive grades and slopes
  • Inappropriate placement of pedestrian signal actuation buttons

While the FHWA study did not evaluate the reasons for the crashes, it noted that 21 percent of pedestrians who died in accidents involving large trucks in 2013 tested positive for the presence of alcohol in their system, compared with one percent of the drivers involved in those crashes. By comparison, only 14 percent of bicyclists who died in collisions with large trucks tested positive for having alcohol in their systems, while none of the drivers in those crashes tested positive for alcohol.

Image Source: SFBike.org