09/09/2011 11:11 am ET | Updated Nov 09, 2011

Reese Witherspoon's Accident: Are Pedestrians In Danger?

Reese Witherspoon, the actress known for roles in diverse films from "Freeway" and "Legally Blonde" to "Walk the Line," suffered minor injuries when she was hit by a car while jogging in Santa Monica, Calif. A police spokesman said the 84-year-old woman driving the car was charged with failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

The case focuses attention on pedestrians' fear of possibly being hit by cars, and the anger we tend to feel when drivers fail to yield, block crosswalks or come too close to us while we are walking. Increased awareness of -- and frustration with -- the many forms of driver distraction from smartphones to screaming children has reinforced a perception that streets are becoming more dangerous for pedestrians.

However, statistics indicate cars are less of a threat to walkers today than ever, and cars kill far fewer pedestrians than they used to. Indeed, through decades of general decline in the number of traffic deaths, pedestrian fatalities have decreased at a faster rate compared with other traffic deaths.


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