According to a recent report that was released by the Governors Highway Safety Association pedestrian deaths have reached their highest levels since the 90s. The non-profit body represents highway safety offices across the country. So, gathers data from all states.
Levels of compensation for a pedestrian hit by a car are also on the increase. In most states, there are more vehicle accidents that involve pedestrians than ever before.
The figures behind this alarming trend relate to the first 6 months of 2018. This was combined with historical data to produce the annual pedestrian injury and death rate. Across the District of Columbia and all 50 states, 6,227 people were killed while walking on or close to highways in just one year. This means that 16% of the people that die in traffic-related accidents, in the USA, are pedestrians.
This is part of an upward trend which started in 2009. But, the uptick in fatalities that occurred in 2018 is the highest seen since 1990. Yet, all other types of traffic-related deaths are in decline.
GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkin had this to say about his organizations study:
“While we have made progress reducing fatalities among many other road users in the past decade, pedestrian deaths have risen 35 percent. “
He also called for action to be taken by saying:
“The alarm bells continue to sound on this issue; it’s clear we need to fortify our collective efforts to protect pedestrians and reverse the trend.”
Progress has been made in reducing road traffic deaths involving drivers, riders and passengers. But, pedestrians remain uniquely vulnerable. They have no protective shell surrounding them as most vehicle users have. Nor do they wear safety items like helmets as cyclists and motorbike riders do. So, when they are involved in a collision of some sort the chance of their sustaining serious injuries is high.
The fact that more people are walking or running on or near highways is also thought to be contributing to the issue. Data published on census.gov shows that between 2007 and 2016 the number of Americans that regularly walk to work increased by 4%.
Driver or pedestrian impairment is also contributing to the issue. Close on 50% of the accidents that resulted in fatalities involved a driver or pedestrian who had been drinking alcohol prior to the incident.
The increasing number of sports utility vehicles (SUVs) being used on US roads is also a contributing factor. Since 2013, the number of pedestrian deaths that involved SUVs rose by 50%. Yet, during the same period, non-SUV accidents that resulted in pedestrian fatalities fell by 30%.
Most of the fatalities occur on local roads rather than major highways. The vast majority occur at night. In fact, more than 90% of the increase in pedestrian fatalities relates to nighttime crashes. So, many road safety specialists believe that improving lighting and providing safer road crossing points will help to reverse this alarming trend. Some states have already taken action and are already seeing reductions in the number of pedestrians dying on their streets.