Pedestrian Deaths Are Rising At A Terrifying Rate

Illustration for article titled Pedestrian Deaths Are Rising At A Terrifying Rate

The Governors Highway Safety Association has been keeping track of pedestrian safety statistics since 1975. According to their early data from 2015, it looks like last year will represent the biggest year-to-year spike in pedestrian deaths ever.

Illustration for article titled Pedestrian Deaths Are Rising At A Terrifying Rate

GHSA has complied a report called Spotlight on Highway Safety that details how, when and where people are being hurt on the road. So far they estimate “2,368 pedestrians were killed in the first half of 2015, an increase of 10 percent over the same time period the prior year.”


“This is a dark day in the history of pedestrian safety,” report author Richard Retting told Autoblog. “It’s troubling news, particularly in an era when many cities and states are putting a big emphasis on eliminating them all together. And we’re seeing the opposite. We’re seeing a startling increase.”

The 29-page report gets into specifics and background on pedestrian safety in America, finding that the most walkers were killed in California, Florida, Texas and New York. Geographically that makes sense, since these states have big urban centers with a lot of people crossing roads on foot.

The report adds that most accidents occurred at night, and it also lays blame on cell phone use while walking:

Many factors contribute to changes in the number pedestrian fatalities, including economic conditions,demographics, weather conditions, fuel prices, the amount of motor vehicle travel, and the amount oftime people spend walking.

Travel monitoring data published by the Federal Highway Administration(FHWA) indicates that motor vehicle travel on all roads and streets increased by +3.5 percent (+52billion vehicle miles) for the first half of 2015 as compared with the same period in 2014.

A more recentcontributing factor may be the growing use of cell phones while walking, which can be a significantsource of distraction for pedestrians.


Alcohol is, of course, still a huge factor, figuring into about half of all crashes that resulted in pedestrian fatalities in 2013, the study said, citing the most recent NHTSA data. And there’s the fact that people are driving more thanks to the current trend of insanely cheap gas.


“Pedestrian safety is clearly a growing problem across the country.” Retting said in a press release. “It is important to understand the data underlying these crashes so states and localities can apply the right mix of engineering, education and enforcement to counteract this troubling trend.”

So far it sounds like one big takeaway is stop moving while texting, so hopefully a combination of education for everybody who has to get around and infrastructure that lets walkers and drivers coexist can come out of studies like this.


Image via GHSA, Shutterstock

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It’s the driver’s responsibility to not run over pedestrians in crosswalks. Looking both ways is good practice of course, but it shouldn’t matter if the pedestrian is distracted, the person in the fast moving two-ton SUV needs to pay attention to what they are doing. Hopefully self-driving cars and auto-braking systems will bring these deaths more or less down to zero in the next two decades.