Fatal Pedestrian Accidents Surge by 35% over the Last 10 YearsMarch 5, 2019
Since 2008, deadly pedestrian accidents in the U.S. have surged to levels not seen since 1990, jumping up 35% over the past decade. This is according to new data from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), which has reported preliminary its findings that 6,227 people were killed in pedestrian accidents in 2018.
While this data is alarming enough, it’s possibly more disturbing in light of the fact that traffic accident deaths overall have declined by about 6% over the past decade.
Where & When Are Most Deadly Pedestrian Accidents Occurring?
The surge in pedestrian deaths in the U.S. has not impacted all states equally. In fact, the GHSA reports that only half of the nation’s states, including the District of Columbia, experienced increases in pedestrian accident deaths, with 23 seeing declines and 2 seeing no change.
Among the states with the biggest spikes in deadly pedestrian accidents were these five, which accounted for 46% of all pedestrian fatalities in 2018:
Here are some other key findings from the GHSA’s report:
- About 3 in every 4 fatal pedestrian accidents occurs during the evening and nighttime (i.e., when it’s dark out).
- About 35% of pedestrian deaths occur on local streets.
- About 72% of deadly pedestrian accidents do not occur at intersections.
- Alcohol impairment is a factor in about half of all deadly pedestrian accidents. While motorists are under the influence in about 18 % of these fatalities, pedestrians are intoxicated in about 32% of them.
- Pedestrian accidents involving sports utility vehicles (SUVs) increased at the fastest rate, when compared to other vehicle types, surging 50% over the last 5 years.
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Why Have Deadly Pedestrian Accidents Increased?
While there’s no quick or single answer to this question, the GHSA did put forth some potential explanations, including:
- Population growth – The five states that had the biggest surges in pedestrian deaths in 2018 also saw the largest population increases over the past few years.
- More smartphone use – More drivers and pedestrians are using cellphones while on the roads, meaning distraction may be a big factor contributing to the increases in deadly pedestrian accidents.
- Falling fuel prices – Lower gas prices means that more drivers are on the roads for longer periods of time, raising the risk and possibly the incidence of pedestrian accidents.
Taking action, many states are already working to reduce deadly pedestrian accidents and achieve the goal of zero deaths, the GHSA reports. Various states have embraced this challenge in different ways, including via:
- Public awareness campaigns
- Infrastructure upgrades, like new crosswalks and signals
- Community outreach, particularly to younger children.
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