A record 26 pedestrians have been killed this year in Nashville, and advocates worry that number will climb higher because the shorter daylight hours typically make November and December the most dangerous.
Last week, police say they suspect an orange Chevrolet Camaro killed a man who was trying to run across Nolensville Pike.
The incident on Thursday happened in the dark at about 9:15 p.m. Ruben Hernandez Aguilar, 31, tried to cross the busy street a couple hundred feet north of a striped crosswalk at Morton Avenue.
He almost made it across.
But now, his life is tallied in an especially deadly year, with the most pedestrian fatalitis on record. Federal numbers are available back to 1975.
“Things are not turning around and seem to be getting worse,” said Nora Kern, executive director of Walk Bike Nashville.
She’s frustrated because the latest death happened in a corridor known to be dangerous — and where Metro and nonprofits have been trying to improve crossings.
“It is really a solvable problem,” Kern said. “We don’t need to fix every street in the city. We need to fix some key, known streets that have a lot of people walking and that are really unsafe.”
The latest fatality is the second fatal — and unsolved — hit-and-run on Nolensville Pike this year. Just after 11 p.m. on Aug. 25, a full-size white van struck and killed 49-year-old Lino Vargas Gutierrez near Elysian Fields Road.
(Police are seeking tips in both crashes. Investigators can be reached at 615-862-7713.)
Urging Caution At Night
Kern’s group is funding a new round of safety PSAs timed with the end of Daylight Saving, when dark streets are more dangerous.
Reports show that more than 75% of pedestrian strikes happen after dark, with the most fatalities often counted in December and November.
One piece of advice from Kern: Drivers should be extra diligent in following the speed limit in areas with high foot-traffic, because just 10 mph can make a difference in whether a pedestrian survives a crash.
“When you step into a car, you should recognize that that’s a heavy responsibility,” Kern said. “At night on the heavy arterials, you should be looking for pedestrians. You should be aware that there are going to be people crossing in places you don’t suspect, because there aren’t a lot of crosswalks.”