Deadly Pedestrian Accident on Sinclair Lane Is One of Many This Year

Pedestrian Accident on Sinclair LaneOn September 11, 2023, a man was walking on the 4300 block of Sinclair Lane near Herring Run Park in Baltimore when he was struck by a vehicle. At this time, police have not identified the victim nor the driver.

Any fatal accident, including Monday’s, is a tragedy – but it’s far from uncommon these days. The following pedestrian accidents occurred in just this year alone:

  • On September 7th, a man was killed in a hit-and-run in Owings Mills while he was walking his dog.
  • On August 23rd, a woman was critically injured while walking her dog along the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail; she later succumbed to those injuries.
  • On April 12th, a pedestrian was killed near the intersection of West Franklin Street and Cathedral Street when a vehicle crashed into a building.
  • On January 31st, a man was killed near Rolling Road and Route 40 in Catonsville.

Baltimore is hardly alone; pedestrian deaths are rising across the country. From the New York Times:

At least 7,508 people who were out walking were struck and killed in the United States last year, said the report, published on Friday by the Governors Highway Safety Association [GHSA], a nonprofit that represents states’ safety offices. The report used preliminary data from government agencies in 49 states and Washington, D.C. (Oklahoma had incomplete data because of a technical issue and was the only state to not provide data, the association said.)

The findings for 2022, and an accompanying analysis of federal government data from 2021, showed that pedestrian deaths in the United States have continued to rise over the last decade.

From 2010 to 2021, pedestrian deaths increased from 4,302 to 7,624, a 77 percent rise, according to the federal data. In the same period, other types of traffic fatalities increased by 25 percent.

The GHSA report says there was a 19 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities between 2019 and 2022; preliminary data says 129 of those deaths were in Maryland.

Hit-and-runs are also on the rise. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s latest data from 2021 shows an 11 percent increase in fatal hit-and-runs between 2020 (2,596) and 2021 (2,872): “Of the 7,388 pedestrian fatalities, 1,802 (24%) were involved in hit-and-run crashes in 2021.”

What is making pedestrians more vulnerable?

What stands out to us about these recent accidents is that they all occurred in areas that are supposed to be “friendly” for pedestrians. Sinclair Lane is a largely residential road; West Franklin and Cathedral Street have protected lanes for cyclists and pedestrian-safe curbs. Yet despite measures to keep pedestrians safe, this particular group appears more vulnerable than ever.

Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy, “one size fits all” answer to why this is the case. Instead, it appears there are multiple reasons contributing to the rise in pedestrian deaths.

  • Drivers are more reckless than ever. Drivers got into some truly dangerous habits during the pandemic, when roads were largely open and free from traffic. But now the country is wide open, and those habits remain. People are still speeding, driving drunk, and being aggressive on the roads.
  • Drivers are overly dependent on safety technology in their cars. There’s no doubt that features like lane assist and rearview cameras are helping drivers avoid collisions with other cars. This technology, however, is not as adept at protecting pedestrians as it claims, especially in the dark. Add this to drivers’ overreliance on safety features, and it is possible that the software designed to protect us all may be making drivers less safe.
  • Vehicles are getting larger than ever. SUVs and light trucks make up the majority of new sales and leases in this country. Pedestrians face a greater risk of death being hit by one of these vehicles because of their size, shape, and weight.
  • Everyone is more distracted than ever. A lot of folks have found themselves online more than ever over the past few years. Data compiled by tech company Asurion showed that “most Americans… are reaching for their device an average of 352 times a day – once every two minutes and 43 seconds.” This represents “a nearly 4-fold increase from a similar survey conducted by Asurion before the pandemic in 2019, when Americans said they checked their phones 96 times a day.” Drivers, passengers, cyclists, even pedestrians themselves may be less aware of their surroundings if they are using their phones, listening to music, or scrolling internet sites. This distraction may also explain why the number of hit-and-run crashes keeps increasing each year.

How can we help protect pedestrians in Maryland?

The very first thing we can do, collectively, is start taking pedestrian safety seriously. When we drive, we must be aware of our surroundings and keep our eyes open for vulnerable road users. When we’re walking ourselves, we must do the same: keep our eyes on the road and look for traffic, and wear bright clothing to make ourselves more visible.

We can also push for structural changes in our roads. Multi-lane roads pose significant dangers to pedestrians, but so do residential areas with low lighting and minimal crosswalks. Most streets are not designed to protect people on bicycles or on foot, so we should be advocating for better safety measures and updated road designs. These measures can include installing speed bumps, repainting road lines with reflective paint, and updating signage to indicate where pedestrians are likely to cross. They should also include pedestrian islands, wider sidewalks, and even no-car zones, if possible.

Of course, these changes may not be enough, especially with the rising number of hit-and-run drivers. To reduce these numbers, we should advocate for allowing cities and municipalities to lower speed limits in heavily trafficked areas, and potentially increasing fines for drivers who flee the scene of an accident.

At Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A., we help individuals and families whose lives have been turned upside down by negligent and dangerous drivers. No matter what kind of vehicle accident caused you harm, we are your advocates. To learn more about our services or to schedule a free consultation, please call or fill out our contact form. We maintain multiple offices throughout Maryland, including in Baltimore, for your convenience.