Pedestrians and cyclists in California and around the country are being killed or injured in worryingly large numbers according to preliminary figures released by the Governors Highway Safety Administration. The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group reported in February that 6,950 cyclists and pedestrians lost their lives in 2019 after being struck by motor vehicles, which represents a 5% year-over-year increase in fatalities and the highest death total in more than four decades.

About a third of America’s approximately 327 million people live in California, Florida, Texas, Arizona and Georgia, but these states account for almost half of the country’s pedestrian fatalities. Pedestrian deaths last fell in 1988, and they have been rising steadily ever since. Overall traffic accident deaths rose by about 2% each year between 2009 and 2018. Pedestrian deaths increased by a sobering 50% during the same period and surged by 5% in 2019 alone according to the GHSA.

Many road safety advocates blame the rise in fatal pedestrian and bicycle accidents on the popularity of large and heavy SUVs and pickup trucks. Light trucks made up less than half of the passenger vehicles sold in the United States in 2009, but they now account for almost seven out of every 10 sales. Government accident data reveals that pedestrians or cyclists struck by vehicles classified as light trucks are about twice as likely to be killed.

Pedestrians and cyclists often suffer catastrophic injuries in accidents that may prevent them from earning a paycheck for several months. This is why experienced personal injury attorneys may consult with doctors and trauma specialists when preparing lawsuits on their behalf. Medical experts could explain the long-term consequences of traumatic brain or back injuries and how they will affect an accident victim’s ability to work. Attorneys may use this information to ensure that they seek damages high enough to cover their client’s lost income and health care costs.