Deadly hit-skips on the rise, close to 6,000 pedestrians killed in 2016

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Close to 6,000 people lost their lives in 2016 after being hit and killed by cars across the country, marking the highest fatality rate in more than two decades.

A Cleveland family knows that pain all too well, after their loved one was hit and killed while crossing St. Clair Avenue. Thursday evening, friends and family gathered on the sidewalk next to the spot where Veronica Carter was killed.

The 53-year-old loving mother and grandmother was hit by a car Monday, as she tried to cross E. 102 and St. Clair Avenue.

"All she was doing was trying to cross the street to come back home," said Veronica's daughter, Lakevea Carter.

Lakevea said she wants justice and for the driver to be caught.

"She was a kindhearted person and she didn't deserve to, you know, deserve what she got," Lakevea said.

Unfortunately, these types of traffic deaths are on the rise nationwide. Last year, 5,997 people were killed by cars. It's a significant spike, compared to the 4,910 people killed in 2014.

"You do kind of see a lot of people crossing the street without hesitation," said Ben Giulivo. "I think some people are in a hurry and they might not take as much caution as they might need to, so that can lead to some stuff."

Researchers blame the increase on a few things: more drivers, more walkers and more distractions.

"When people have their headphones in they're not paying attention and they'll just walk and then cars will have to honk at them to make them alert," said Mary Barrett.

According to Dangerous by Design, particularly deadly roads in the Cleveland area include:

  • Lorain Avenue on Cleveland's west end
  • The main north-south roads of Lander, Brainard, and SOM Center roads in eastern suburbs
  • West 117th between Cleveland and Lakewood
  • Public Square—the roads around the Square
  • St. Clair near E. 105th (in Glenville)
  • York and Pearl roads in Parma
  • Fitch and Cook roads in North Olmsted/ Olmsted Falls

They're busy roadways, just like where Veronica lost her life.

"They need to take their time and watch out for pedestrians," said Lakevea.

As Veronica's family searches for the person behind the wheel, they're working to keep her memory alive.

"She loved everyone. She loved her grandkids and her children," said Veronica's daughter.

Typically, fatal accidents happen between 6 p.m. and midnight. Nearly 75 percent of hit-skips happen after dark.

Not only were pedestrian accidents up last year, but deadly car crashes were the highest they've been in nearly 10 years as well.

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