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Walking Deadly: Study says fatal pedestrian crashes up

New study shows auto versus pedestrian crashes are up...and they're more deadly than ever.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The warmer weather in Western New York means more people are out and about on foot. And in urban and suburban settings, that means people are out there sharing the roadways with cars, trucks and SUVs.

But in the past few weeks there have been a number of serious, even deadly, crashes where vehicles hit people. And now, a recently released national study supports the growing concern over the safety of pedestrians.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety pulled pedestrian crash data which shows not just a rise in crashes, but also an increase in deadly crashes. The statistics show they're happening on busy, dark, city and suburban roads, away from intersections.

The areas that saw the largest increase of pedestrian crashes were arterial roadways, the roads that feed into the major highways.

David Harkey, president of the IIHS cites a number of reasons for the increase; everything from more miles driven, to higher speed limits, even the type of vehicles on the roads.

The study highlights an 81% increase in the number of deadly pedestrian crashes involving SUVs. Researchers say the high, vertical front ends of SUVs, trucks and vans are more likely to hit people in the chest and the head.

The study does offer some solutions; more sidewalks, mid-block crosswalks and crossing islands to keep people out of the streets and avoiding the temptation to jaywalk.

"One of the things that we need to be aware of as roadway designers," said Harkey, "is the need to accomodate pedestrians."

For automakers, the IIHS recommends a SUV front end redesign, headlight improvements and pedestrian-detection systems in more vehicles.

Recommendations for pedestrians walking at dusk or in the dark, wear bright or reflective clothing, carry a flashlight, and avoid looking at smartphones or other devices while walking in roadways.

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