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Are pedestrian deaths up because they're intoxicated?

The unfortunate reality is that people often have a tendency to blame the victim. When all evidence suggests that they should be looking the other way when casting blame, they try to figure out what the victim did to make something unfortunate happen to themselves.

A great example of this comes from some recent reports on pedestrian fatalities. Rather than asking why pedestrians deaths were on the rise and why people faced such grave dangers around traffic, researchers said that pedestrians were more likely to walk around while they were drunk, thus leading to these accidents.

Why it doesn't hold up

This argument doesn't hold up for a number of reasons, not just because blaming the victim feels hollow. It's just an inaccurate reading of the issue.

For one thing, researchers said that more intoxicated pedestrians died in car accidents, by a few hundred, when comparing data from 2014 and 2018. There were 300 more such deaths.

While that raw number is true, you have to look at the number of drunk pedestrians who died as a share of the total amount of pedestrian fatalities for the year. When you do that, you see that pedestrian deaths have jumped up so dramatically -- 22% -- that the percentage of those pedestrians who were intoxicated was actually smaller in 2018 than it was in 2014.

Clearly, the news report was twisting the statistics.

On top of that, defining an "intoxicated" pedestrian is also a bit tricky. In the reports, they used the same Blood Alcohol Concentration limit of 0.08% that police use for drunk drivers.

While they certainly needed to start somewhere, the reality is that pedestrians do not have a BAC limit. Just because you're too drunk to drive a complex, 4,000-pound machine at 70 miles per hour does not mean you're too drunk to walk down the sidewalk.

A lot of those pedestrians who found themselves around the 0.08% mark probably did not actually feel all that drunk. They were still smart enough to decide to walk, rather than drive. And yet, all they got for it was the blame when they got hit by cars.

After an accident

All of this is not to say that pedestrians never cause accidents because they get intoxicated. They do. It does happen.

However, blaming the victims when the statistics do not support it never makes much sense. Pedestrians are not getting killed more frequently because they're drunk more often.

It's important to put the blame where it belongs after an accident. It's also important for those who get injured or who lose a loved one to know what legal options they have in Nevada.

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