H.3656 Aims to Protect Pedestrians by Instituting “Complete Streets”

H.3656 Aims to Protect Pedestrians by Instituting “Complete Streets”

Between 2008 and 2017, nearly 50,000 pedestrians – about one person every hour and half – were killed by negligent drivers across the United States. To place a spotlight on this startling statistic, Smart Growth America and The National Complete Streets Coalition published a report ranking states and specific metropolitan areas based on their “Pedestrian Danger Index.” The study reveals that while traffic fatalities involving motor vehicle occupants has decreased by 6.1%, the number of pedestrian deaths has steadily increased by 35.4% since 2009.

According to the report, the following factors are responsible for the increase in pedestrian fatalities:

  • There has been an increase in the number of intoxicated and distracted driving incidents
  • Streets are being designed for speed and not pedestrian safety
  • States function on a “level of service” metric
  • Federal policies, standards, and funding mechanisms mainly focus on minimizing vehicle delay
  • More drivers are purchasing SUVs and trucks (which tend to cause fatalities more often than smaller vehicles

The most dangerous states for pedestrians are those located in the southern continental United States, or the “Sun Belt.” South Carolina currently ranks as the 10th most dangerous state for pedestrians due to its high number of bicyclist and pedestrian deaths.

Fortunately, State Representative Marven Pendarvis (D-North Charleston) has filed a bill, H.3656, that aims to protect the lives of South Carolinians. If this bill passes, the South Carolina Department of Transportation “shall implement a ‘complete streets’ policy with the goal of improving publicly funded highways in urban areas to provide safe and efficient accommodation for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders.”

Complete streets are designed and operated to facilitate safe travel for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and motorists. Of course, there isn’t a singular design prescription for complete streets. Each project needs to be unique and reflect the context of its community. For example, it may include: sidewalks, pedestrian signals, bike lanes, accessible public transportation stops, bus lanes, safe crosswalks, curb extensions, roundabouts, and more.

Rep. Pendarvis was motivated to draft this bill after analyzing various reports and statistics regarding pedestrian fatalities. He came to the following conclusion after completing his research: “As we look at the designs of our streets, they’re not pedestrian friendly. They’re not bike friendly. They’re only friendly for cars. We’ve got to be a bit more intentional on how we design them.”

H.3656 will get a House hearing on April 2, 2019. While the bill has garnered some bipartisan support, many lawmakers are concerned about its general fiscal impact. Regardless of its future, H.3656 is still a major step in the right direction when it comes to promoting and ensuring pedestrian safety.

Injured by a Negligent Driver? Contact a Qualified Legal Representative.

Contact Pierce, Sloan, Wilson, Kennedy & Early LLC if you’ve been injured by the actions of a negligent driver. Our Charleston pedestrian accident attorneys have the skills and resources to meticulously investigate your case and develop a solid litigation strategy that aims to maximize your claim. With our help, you can recover compensatory damages that account for your ongoing injury-related expenses.  

Call Pierce, Sloan, Wilson, Kennedy & Early LLC at (843) 968-0886 to schedule your free consultation.

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